By Chris Wood
I went to see Art Neumann a few months before he passed away. As I left, he punched me on the leg, and asked, “What are you going to do to keep up the fight for trout?” He died later that year after nearly 100 years of life and almost 75 years of advocacy on behalf of trout and salmon, not to mention playing a starring role in the creation of Trout Unlimited from his home in Saginaw, Mich.
Keeping up the fight for trout begins with ensuring that we expand the base for conservation and also train the next generation of conservation stewards, and Michigan has long been a leader in both areas.
The Michigan Trout Camp is in its 22nd year, and serves dozens of kids every summer. They hold multiple fly fishing day camps around the state, and manage close to 100 Salmon in the Classroom tanks. They work with the Boy Scouts on the fly-fishing merit badge, and are in the process of creating the STREAM (Science, Technology, Recreation, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Girls Scout’s program in the Grand Rapids area, with plans to expand it statewide over the next couple of years.
Michigan is also a leader in getting more women and minorities involved in Trout Unlimited with programs to take them macro-invertebrate sampling, stream monitoring, and of course, offering fly fishing lessons. So, it is no surprise that Michigan is creating the Art Neumann Memorial Fund, an ambitious effort to provide scholarships and financial aid to their chapters for efforts to promote youth education and diversity within TU.
Michigan joins the Guadalupe River Chapter of TU as a leader in expanding the base for conservation support. In two years, GRTU’s Tomorrow Fund has helped to:
• Launch three new regional STREAM Girls programs in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona.
• Fund the TU Teen Summit June where 27 of TU’s rising teen leaders from across the country will gather for five days of learning, sharing, and developing strategies to engage more of their peers in TU’s mission.
• Train our 400-plus chapters to reach to young people by producing online webinars, conducting in-person “train-the-trainer” events, speaking at chapter meetings and developing online resources.
• Educate camp counselors about TU’s Summer on the Fly program. These counselors teach hundreds of young campers the basics of fly fishing with the potential to reach thousands of kids each summer.
I do not know if Art knew about our efforts to diversify the organization, and reach more young people. I like to think he would be pleased to know that for 25 years our chapters and councils have held more than 25 youth camps around the country every summer. These camps teach kids the basics of conservation, fishing, fly-tying, and I know this sounds hokey, citizenship.
Betsy and I contribute to the Headwaters program, and plan to do the same for the Art Neumann Memorial Fund. And I hope you will consider doing so, too. It is one of the best investments we can make in helping to “keep up the fight for trout.”