By Claire Cekander
Most teenagers don’t know what fly fishing is. Even more don’t know what Trout Unlimited is or what TU does. However, I am one of the lucky few–a part of this organization.
I, along with 14 other young anglers, met up this summer on Spring Creek in Pennsylvania. There, we not only met other teenagers sharing the same passion, but we also worked to make TU a better organization.
As attendees of the TU Summit, it was our job to convey our thoughts and observations regarding youth involvement in TU. At first, when I arrived, I was a little intimidated by the others. Most were big-time fly fishers who spent most of their time on a stream or were extremely involved with their local chapter. As a busy senior in high school from suburban Chicago, with no time or location to go fishing, I thought I would be out of place.
However, when the discussion started I felt more involved than before. I realized that we all traveled far for the summit because we genuinely want to see more teenagers and young people become involved with TU. As a group, we collectively agreed that TU isn’t well-known among the younger demographic because it hasn’t grabbed the attention of young people. TU does have great programs such as Trout in the Classroom, but it doesn’t get enough people involved. After reaching this collective thought, the group then tried to think of solutions.
We came up with everything from going into science-related high school courses to hosting competitions in order to draw people in. After a short three days of discussion (along with fishing a beautiful creek), we came up with multiple lists on how the youth of Trout Unlimited feel and where we would like to see TU go from here.
We believe that TU needs to gain young members because one day we are going to be the adults in charge and we need more passionate members to keep this organization running. As school has started and the TU Summit seems distant, the summit attendees are still working hard. Many of us are presenting to local chapters or writing about what we learned.
More importantly, we are all communicating in hopes that we continue to and can help bring in more young members.