As a staff member in the TU Headwaters Youth program, I have an insider’s perspective on just how hard our chapters work to get young people involved in TU. This involvement may take the shape of a fly- tying workshop or a visit to a TIC classroom, possibly even a full day of Fly Fishing 101 on a community stream.
Our chapters and councils dedicate over 120,000 hours annually to youth outreach, and that bigger number is a composite of all types of local and regional programs and projects.
The members of Central Massachusetts TU (CMTU) sponsor such a program, but theirs is a bit unusual in that it targets youth who already know how to fly fish and are eager to put their skills to the test. Now in its fourth year, the Massachusetts State High School Fly Fishing Tournament is open to all Massachusetts high school students and takes place at the Auburn Sportsman’s Club, centrally located in Auburn, Mass.
For initial recruitment, CMTU focuses on local schools that have existing fly fishing clubs: Lincoln-Sudbury and Auburn High with the hope that these founding schools will encourage others to participate. Additionally, CMTU is working with local fly shops and fly shows to promote and expand the event, and they have brought in Cabela’s as one key supporter. Prizes are given to the top three teen anglers and winners of free raffles.
CMTU President Peter Sterndale hopes to expand the Massachusetts model to include other nearby states, and he envisions a New England High School Fly Fishing Championship that will enable the region’s TU chapters and high schools to participate. Sterndale also sees the CMTU effort being easily replicated in other areas of the country.
Many of the TU Teens who graduate from TU’s 25 summer camps and academies would undoubtedly welcome this sort of opportunity in their own states.
To find out more details about the CMTU high school program, contact Peter Sterndale.