The TU Fountain of Youth

The TU Fountain of Youth

 

 

As a father of two young daughters, the next generation is always on my mind. Neither of them show much interest in fly rods or fishing poles at the moment although the youngest surprises me from time to time.

 

They are both quite content wet wading, chasing minnows, and turning rocks over to look for bugs. We spent nearly three hours today chasing minnows on the Lower Wisconsin River and there was never a complaint.  Well, maybe a little grumble when it was time to go, but who can blame them.

 

I hear a lot of people writing off the next generation because they are too tied to their screens. I don’t buy into that notion, and as a TU member, neither should you.


At all levels of TU – local, state, and national – we’re providing opportunities to engage the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts. The summer months are always a good reminder of our commitment to our youth.

 

Many of our local chapters are busy putting on kids fishing days, casting clinics, and streamside ecology and entomology stations.  Keep it simple, make it fun, and provide a positive outdoor experience for the kids who participate. If you get the chance, volunteer at one of these events, you’ll be glad you did.

 

Summer is also a perfect time to start thinking about Trout in the Classroom (“TIC”). Did your chapter sponsor any tanks at your local school in past years?  Is there an opportunity to add a tank to a few more classrooms? Now is the time to be making these arrangements.

 

A typical TIC set up costs about $1,200 - $1,500. Now think about how many students and families your chapter will get to interact with over the next several years because of that tank. I’m sure the local newspaper will want to do a story. A TIC tank is the perfect way for a Chapter to do local community outreach.

 

Contact Wisconsin TU’s TIC Coordinator Greg Olson at driftless23@gmail.com for more info.

 

Speaking of summer activities, Wisconsin TU’s Annual Youth Camp is right around the corner. This four day, three night camp takes place on Pine Lake, just south of Waupaca. We’ll be taking 20 campers between the ages of 12-16 and immersing them in fishing, ethics, ecology, and conservation.

 

My favorite part of the Youth Camp is seeing alumni from prior Youth Camps coming back to pass on their knowledge to the next class.

 

Several of our past Camp attendees have had the opportunity of going on to the TU Teen Summit – a national gathering of TU Teens from around the country. This annual Teen leadership conference has been postponed until 2022 due to COVID19 concerns. We expect a strong showing when it returns.

 

TU is well positioned to engage youth at the college level through our 5 Rivers Club programs. These tend to be more of a fishing club on campus, but they certainly have a conservation ethic running through the heart of the program.

 

If your chapter would like to engage college students at a local university, it helps to first make a strong connection with a faculty member. These clubs tend to turn over students fairly often as they graduate or transfer to other schools, so having a consistent and proactive faculty member facilitating the club is a must.

 

Once established, make sure to invite your local 5 Rivers Club members out to Chapter events. They won’t be able to make all of them, but it’s a good way to gauge which of your events appeal to a younger audience.

 

This October, Wisconsin will once again play host to the Upper Midwest 5 Rivers Club Rendezvous. We’re expecting about 40-50 college kids participating in 5 Rivers Clubs across the Midwest to descend on the West Fork Sports Club in Avalanche the first weekend in October. The Rendezvous will have a focus on fishing and building friendships.

 

The Rendezvous will be organized by TU national and provides an opportunity for Club members to learn from other programs around the region. On Saturday, October 2, the kids will get to participate in either a local stream restoration project or a local community fishing education event. Any free time will probably be spent chasing native brook trout and wild brown trout in area streams.

 

As these kids grow up, it’s imperative that our Chapters welcome them and provide opportunities for them to get involved in leadership positions through committees, board of director positions, or as Chapter officers.

 

TU’s Stream of Engagement gives us the ability to interact with kids and young adults of all ages in our communities. It’s up to us to tap into this fountain of youth and instill their passion, vibrancy, and energy into our Chapters.

 

The future of cold, clean, fishable water in Wisconsin depends on it.

 

Much Respect,

Mike Kuhr

State Council Chair

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