Follow Up: An Open Letter to TU

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My previous post regarding Trout Unlimited has sparked a level of discussion that goes beyond what I expected. The response from both sides has been passionate and articulate, and I feel obligated to address that response. In this follow-up piece, I want to accomplish a few things. First, I want to recognize some of the shortcomings that have been pointed out. I genuinely appreciate all of the feedback we have received, so thank you to everyone who took the time to get involved. Next, I want to address the response I have received from TU itself. I spent about half an hour on the phone with Chris Wood, the President and CEO of TU, this morning and was left thoroughly encouraged. Finally, I want to talk about a path forward and the role that this blog will play in that process.

Perhaps the most significant criticism was directed toward my lack of attention to the good work done by TU chapters throughout the country. Clearly, that was a mistake on my part, and I apologize to everyone who was made to feel as though this work was not appropriately recognized. In order to paint a more thorough picture of the topic, I should have spent more time in this arena. To those of you who responded with information on the projects being undertaken by your chapters, thank you for the work you are doing. Your efforts should be applauded rather than ignored, and I intend to use this platform for that purpose going forward.

Additionally, I recognize that I should have been explicitly clear that the piece was not directed at any individual chapter. While my experiences are within the framework of two chapters, this article was born out of discussions with members in other chapters throughout the country. Clearly these experiences are not reflective of every chapter, and that variation is part of what makes the organization what it is.

Lastly, I think my decision to work outside of the TU framework came across as apathy, and this couldn’t be farther from the truth. While I have no intention of going through a list of the areas in which I participate, I want you all to know one thing. We are working toward the same goals. We all care deeply about these issues, and the response to this article makes that clear. If we expect people throughout the country to care about our local issues, we must care about theirs. When something important comes up in a region or on a river you will probably never fish, pitch in. As a result, when something we care about is threatened, the network of individuals fighting for the same goal will be an unstoppable force.

As I mentioned, I had the opportunity to speak directly with Chris Wood, the President and CEO of Trout Unlimited. The fact that he reached out to me speaks to his involvement and leadership, and I am very appreciative for that. He thanked me for writing the piece and for helping to spark this discussion, and we went on to have a very productive conversation about how we direct all of this energy in a positive direction. He has made himself available to continue the discussion, and in the coming weeks you will see a conversation between Chris and I, either in an audio format or a transcribed version. His response was constructive and appreciative, and I am incredibly encouraged by the conversation we had. While I do not know Chris personally, I think his attitude and response demonstrates that he is a man who has found his calling. As we finished our conversation, we came to a very solid agreement that we want the same things and that both Chris and I, as well as all of us, are on the same team.

Finally, I want to discuss my intentions for this blog moving forward. I recognize the reach of the platform that we have here at SCOF, and I realize the importance of using that platform responsibly and constructively. While my intentions for the post were constructive, I should have been absolutely explicit about that. My goal from the beginning of my involvement of this blog has been to advance our sport, and there is no doubt that I have not exploited the reach we have to accomplish that to the degree to which we can. As a result, you are going to see a few changes going forward.

First, I have not encouraged your involvement enough. If you have a conservation project in which you have participated, whether through TU or not, use this platform to let our community know about it. You’ll find our contact information at the bottom of this post, so please feel free to send along a write-up and some pictures to be highlighted on the blog. This holds true for non-conservation articles as well. If you have a good story to tell, some kick-ass pictures from your last trip, or simply an opinion that you think needs to be heard, send it along. I won’t promise that we’ll post everything we receive, but you have my word that we’ll make a better effort.

Lastly, I want to thank you for your response and involvement. The passion from both sides is encouraging; we can get things done. I genuinely look forward to continuing this discussion in an effort to protect the things we all care about. Please continue to be involved with this platform, and be on the lookout for my conversation with Chris. I’m convinced that the diversity of opinions and experiences we’ve seen in the last couple of days can be used to accomplish our goals together. There are fights worth fighting, and they are fights we can win. Let’s make it happen.

-Christian

southerncultureonthefly@gmail.com

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9 thoughts on “Follow Up: An Open Letter to TU

  1. Keep up the good work. Clearly there is a need for a passionate, informed, and multi-directional conduit in which all anglers can express their thoughts, beliefs, and desires. Apathy is non action. It is apparent to me from the responses by TU and others that there is plenty of action out there to conserve, protect, and restore North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. I am invigorated by your platform and approach to open the dialogue to make the most efficient and best use of our resources to achieve action. Let’s all roll up our sleeves, get dirty and do something to promote change. Our region needs more action from every angler. Encourage a friend to join TU and make their voice heard, pick up trash while you fish, embrace those that have views other than yours, and don’t be apathetic about the pastime that you partake in. Mother Nature needs our advocacy, let’s all get involved and see what we can do collectively.

  2. Bravo Christian. as anglers–whether a TU member or not–we all need to give back to the rivers and streams that give us such joy and ask for so little in return.

  3. Good words. As a closing thought; Might I respectfully suggest you take a minute to check up on your local chapter? If you’ve been away a few years things might have changed. Perhaps you caught them at the beginning of a “rebuild” phase and things now are not as you remember them. Check out their website, look at their strategic plan, their budget and their schedule of speakers to see how they’re using their time and resources. That will tell you a lot about their priorities and focus. I have a strong hunch they’d love to have you back.

  4. I didn’t read the original letter that sparked this response Christian, but it’s apparent from reading this that you’re well-read, articulate, and certainly passionate about rivers, and the critters in which they inhabit.

    I’ve written to my state representatives to encourage more and constant vigilance, as well as restoration and nurturing of our native waterways, and ask others to do the same. Words are cheap, and in my opinion worthless, unless they’re sent in the right direction!

    Send the letters in! Our rivers deserve our support!

  5. Chris is no ordinary CEO and my thoughts are that neither are you at all ordinary. We need passion to fight our fights and push our worthy agendas. Simply, you have opened dialog on some important topics (not to sell your message short by calling it simple). But as the responder mentioned above, we need both action and dialog.
    I look forward to see where this goes and I would suggest that perhaps a copy of your first post be sent to each TU Chapter for some soul searching.

  6. Both of these posts are pretty interesting to me. I’m a member of the High Country Chapter (Ashe, Avery and Watauga Counties, Boone NC area for those who don’t know county names). We are going into our second year as a chapter. I actually serve as secretary, women’s initiative chair, membership chair, and veterans chair (I’m trying to get rid of some of these). My husband serves as President. We own a fly fishing guide service and we are both 26. The driving force behind our chapter is a hand full of people under the age of 35 that consist of industry professionals that include guides, and conservation nonprofits. We do have individuals serve that are 40s-70s. I find that the younger membership are more willing to jump in and help, and to be PC we do have those 40-70 yo that do the same thing.

    I agree that the “older generation” of TU needs a sort of a wake up call. When I was nominated as secretary a year ago I had an older man ask “do you even fish?”. Luckily there was a kid there that works for my husband and I and he blurted out “Yeah she does, and could out fish you!” And a side note, he’s only been to 1 other meeting.

    To counter your “TU is a conservation club and not a fishing club”, I feel that it is hard to bring in those younger generations because we don’t just go fishing all the time. Like I said above, we do have younger professionals and college students that do get it but a lot don’t at all. Can I say it? Social media has a lot to do with this I think. Young anglers care more about getting 1,000 likes on Instagram than protecting the water that 16″ wild brown just came out of.

    As a member of the leadership and a young industry professional that is a woman, I think there needs to be more communication between chapters and I think TU nationals needs to help pull in focus on certain chapters and their needs. We put together a strategic plan and we hardly got anything done. It was too much for a 1st year chapter.

    I applaud you taking a stand on this. even though it wasn’t exactly encouraging TU membership. I wish more fly fishing related social media accounts, online blogs, companies, etc would start encouraging more conservation and not just big fish pictures.

  7. Pingback: The Top Posts of 2016 | Southern Culture On The Fly

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