By Jamie Vaughan
Girl Scouts love the outdoors and helping their community. In Michigan, with its 36,000 miles of rivers and streams, they especially love their water. Their innate care for the environment, plus their adventurous spirit and hunger for knowledge, makes Girl Scouts the perfect group of young people to become our future water stewards.
STREAM Girls, which stands for science, technology, recreation, engineering, arts, and math, is an exciting watershed-based program that introduces girls to STEM education and fly fishing in a fun, hands-on, experiential way.
Trout Unlimited hosted two weekend camps this summer in West Michigan that landed over 60 girls.
During the camp, Girl Scouts assessed a community stream, studied its flow, sampled macroinvertebrates, journaled about their experiences, tied a fishing fly, and even learned to cast and fish with a fly rod.
One troop leader who attended the camp said, “Awesome event! My daughter couldn’t wait to get home and steal her dad’s fly rod!”
While Trout Unlimited works to engage youth through many different programs, STREAM Girls stands out as one of the most important and impactful for those who get to experience it. It aims to close the gender gap in science education and improve women’s underrepresentation in the STEM workforce by providing access to meaningful out-of-school science education and opportunities to learn science in a single-sex, informal education setting. In doing so, the program instills in participants an interest in science and a confidence in STEM while also connecting them to their community’s watershed.
But STEM isn’t the only place where women are underrepresented. By introducing girls to the art of fly tying and getting them comfortable with a fly rod in their hand, Trout Unlimited hopes to garner a love for fly fishing in the Girl Scouts. As women tend to care for what they love, TU believes that by getting more women interested in fly fishing at a young age, we will have many more stewards protecting our precious water resources.
At the camps, the Girl Scouts had the opportunity to work with a variety of female figures, from environmental professionals at the Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds, to college students interning at West Michigan Environmental Action Council, and even members of Trout Unlimited and Fly Girls of West Michigan.
“How awesome is it for our little women to see these strong and confident women tackling their passions so boldly?” one Girl Scout mother shared about the program.
Trout Unlimited is excited to have the opportunity to get girls out to investigate their local streams and get a fly rod in their hand. After having the pleasure to work with many inquisitive and inspiring girl scouts this summer, TU is feeling great confidence in this group of outstanding STREAM Girls and future stewards of clean and healthy watersheds!
Stream Girls is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. The Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative Project is funded by the Frey Foundation, the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, the Wege Foundation, the Wolverine World Wide Foundation, and the Schrems West Michigan Trout Unlimited.
Jamie Vaughan is Trout Unlimited’s Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative coordinator. She is based in Michigan.