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Pay It Forward

A few weeks ago I was surprised, pleasantly, when my local TU chapter asked for help with a new program. They decided that they were going to hold a youth fly fishing clinic. Having experience in casting instruction I was happy to lend a hand upon their request. This would be my first time instructing a group and of course I was jumping right into the fire with a group of students ages 12 – 18.

Teaching the students hands on knots and rigs.
Teaching the students hands on knots and rigs.

I will take a tangent here. Noticed I said “students”? It is on purpose and for good reason. Remember when you were a kid? Remember how you hated being told: “you’re just a kid”? Yeah, me too. Kids these days are no different, in fact, people these days are no different. We all seek the same respect from others as we give to them. I am not suggesting that they are in fact not kids, they just don’t need the condecension that comes along with the name.

This is one of our best students from the day. She did all we asked and wanted to learn more. Great work Aleia!
This is one of our best students from the day. She did all we asked and wanted to learn more. Great work Aleia!

And to add to this tangent I will also say that we found many of our students were only as limited as their teachers. That is to say that our students absolutely ate up every piece of instruction that we threw at them. I designed an outline and program that would allow for 2 hours of instruction and 2 hours of fishing. Some members of our chapter were concerned about the instructional side of the day.  They believed that our students would lose interest with “too much” instruction and not enough fishing. This was a good point and there must be a balance. However an algae bloom in the pond made for difficult fishing and intermitent showers were also a challenge.

This is what it is all about!
This is what it is all about!

Despite the challenges our students and staff rose to the occasion and had a great time fly casting. All of the students learned the roll cast and basic cast. Some students wanted to learn more so we worked with them on false casting and line control. The biggest success of the day was that everyone had fun.

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I started the day out reminding our staff that the most important part of the day was that the students have fun. We knew the weather and condition of the pond were out of our control but we could make the most of our time by having fun.

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With good planning, flexible instructors, and great students we were able to share our love of the sport with the next generation. Next time you want to help pay it forward give your local TU chapter a look and see what they are up to. There just might be a program that needs your help.

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I want to thank all of the parents, students and especially the volunteers for making this event a success. We are looking forward to having it again next year. Special thanks to Hugh Wenger for allowing us to have this event on his property and opening up his basement to us when the weather turned.

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This event had such a positive outcome that it has started the ball rolling on more family focused events for our chapter. I am very encouraged by this as I believe this is the key to building a good community of conservation. By having more events focus on youth and family we will be able to involve more people from our community. TU is all about coldwater conservation but sometimes you must use other angles to lead people to your mission.

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Fly Fishing and fishing in general are just two ways we get people involved with coldwater conservation. I am excited to see our group moving in this direction and Keystone Fly Guides will support our local conservation groups in anyway we can.

Great success everyone!

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