From the President

Thanking essential workers (including Mom)

Cassie takes a break from nursing to fish.

Trout Unlimited has been running a free membership campaign directed at essential workers who email me or fill out this form. Given that Sunday is Mother’s Day, we are extending the offer to all the Moms out there who love to fish, care about conservation, and want to join the TU family. So, Moms, sign up to become a free one-year member of TU just by filling out this form.

The offer is good through Monday, May 11, so make good on it soon!

I have absolutely loved the personal interaction with the essential workers who are now full-fledged TU members. The first 500 emailed me personally with their requests. The stories of the grocery clerks, drug store employees, sanitation workers, doctors, nurses, cops, fire-fighters are all inspiring. 

An unexpected, but totally cool, aspect is hearing the gratitude of existing members who are also essential workers. A few of the choice cuts are reprised below. In the stress of COVID-19; in the stress of shelter-in-place; in the stress of a “new normal” of which we do not yet know the contours, I am heartened by the fact that there are truly wonderful people in the world.

Hang with me till the end of this note as the last story is the best!

“Happy hunkering to you!

I am a kidney doctor and have been working in Duke Hospital in NC over the past month. We are taking care of people who get kidney failure as a result of Covid 19 infection I can’t remember if I let my membership lapse. If so, I would love to look forward to some stream time with TU after the craziness stops. If my membership is active, I can think of a few coworkers who I will give memberships instead.”


An essential fish

I am a certified paramedic. I have been a TU member in the past and have renewed for another year. Thank you for the offer of a free year with TU for essential workers. Please take my free one year to TU and reinvest the money for the future fisherman and TU. Thank you again and …. Fish On!”


“Thank you for this most generous offer.  Because I work in the financial services industry, I am considered essential.  But I am blessed beyond measure to be able to continue to advise my clients and attend to their service needs—and still get paid for doing so – during our present circumstances.  Please give a free membership on my behalf to someone who could really use a lift.  I’m good.”


“I am already a member of TU, but I appreciate what you are saying.  Many essential employees are going to have some form of PTSD…  I suggest calling on your members to share the wonders of the outdoors with people on the front line. I am a professor and I see the effects of this on family and neighbors who also work in education.  We know our students are struggling with this and are somewhat handicapped in our ability to help. Thanks again for your thoughtfulness.”


Getting her started early

“I’m a Captain on the fire department in Decatur IL.  I joined TU just a couple weeks ago.   I just saw that you are waving the dues for essential workers.  I’m not seeking a refund of my dues, I’m happy to support TU.

The closest trout fishing to me is 4hrs away in Southern Missouri or a little further into the Driftless area in Iowa and Wisconsin.  I go religiously (and let’s face it, it is a religion) every 2 weeks.  I get up at 2AM drive 4 or 5 hrs to the stream, getting there right at sun-up.  I fish till it gets dark, load up and drive 4 or 5 hrs  back home arriving at 10:00 or 11:00.  Always worth it.  3 or 4 times a year I drive to Northern New Mexico to fish with a guy I’ve become friends with that guides out of the Taos fly shop.  Drive 18 hrs straight through, fish hard for two or three days, drive 18 straight back home.  Always worth it. 

My schedule allows me a great deal of time off.  I’m 24 hrs on duty, 48hrs off.  That works out to a 2 or 3 day work week.  If there is something I could do for the organization with all that time please reach out to me and let me know.” 


“I first got started in fly fishing 2 years ago after a spring break family trip to the Great Smoky Mtns.  Starting from having nothing for fly fishing, to going on two guided trips, to buying my first fly rod/reel with my sons, to camping out with some friends on Elk Creek in NC, to now tying my own flies, it has become a passion.  Now, my oldest son, 15, is getting into learning about tying flies, and he has expressed an interest in learning more about fly fishing.  All of this to say, since my start in fly fishing a couple years ago, I have been saying I wanted to join TU.  Just today, a co-worker physician of mine was asking me about some recommendations for a local river in NC, and I heard about TU; and found out about this very generous offer from TU!  

This has been the most challenging time in our country in many decades, and one that we will get through as we have in the past, with perseverance, dedication, patience and flexibility, which are some of the same traits required for doing the thing we all love to do! I look forward to being a part of the TU family!”


Finally, here is what Scott wrote: “Do I qualify for the free membership? I am a special education teacher at a school for individuals diagnosed with autism. We are doing our very best to implement distance learning for our students and providing daily support for our parents who desperately need assistance. I’m very proud of being an integral part of leading this process and feel very fortunate to be there for the students and families I love very much…”

A day later, Scott wrote back…

Scott on the water

“I would like to retract the request to determine if I am an essential worker. That was selfish on my end, and many other people out there fit that criteria far more appropriately. Thank you once again for what TU is doing. I have the utmost respect for your company. Take care.” 

Mom, doctor, analyst, teacher, fireman, grocery worker, special-ed teacher: essential is such an eye-of-the-beholder word. Scott, you are essential. Please share the word about the membership offer to essential employees, including Moms, who love to fish, care about conservation, and wish to join the TU family.

And, Dads, stay tuned for Father’s day.

Chris Wood is the president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. He’s working from home in Washington, D.C., during the pandemic.

By Chris Wood. Chris has worked at TU for 22 years, and is not the best angler, but he is among the most earnest.