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TU’s network of chapters and volunteers offer the nation’s most innovate and successful programs for engaging youth in coldwater conservation. Use the links on the left to learn more about TU’s educational programs in Virginia, and how they are being used by Virginia chapters to foster a whole new generation of conservationists. Trout Unlimited is a national organization with more than 140,000 volunteers organized into about 400 chapters from Maine to Montana to Alaska. This dedicated grassroots army is matched by a respected staff of lawyers, policy experts, and scientists, who work out of more than 30 offices nationwide. These conservation professionals ensure that TU is at the forefront of fisheries restoration work at the local, state and national levels.

The organization remains committed to applying “the very best information and thinking available” in its conservation work and has developed cutting-edge tools such as the Conservation Success Index (CSI), a sophisticated framework for assessing the health of coldwater fish species throughout their native range. Whether this range encompasses a few hundred miles or multiple states, the CSI helps the organization target its efforts toward those populations most in need of protection or restoration.

The CSI also enables TU to measure its progress in achieving the bold goals laid out in its mission and vision. These goals require the organization to work at increasingly larger scales and to collaborate with other conservation interests, local communities, and state and federal partners to begin to rebuild the natural resiliency of watersheds. Such efforts are crucial if North America’s trout and salmon are to survive climate change and the host of threats facing them at the start of the 21st century.

More than 50 years after its founding, no other conservation organization is as well placed as TU to make a difference for the nation’s coldwater fisheries.

Trout in the Classroom​

Trout in the Classroom (TIC) is a conservation-oriented environmental education program for elementary, middle, and high school students. In Virginia, the program is a cooperative effort  between the Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited (TU) and the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, (DWR). In the program, students and teachers raise trout from fertilized eggs supplied by the DWR. The project starts shortly after school starts in the fall and commences in the spring with release of the baby trout in streams approved by DWR.


During the year, each teacher tailors the program to fit his or her curricular needs.  Therefore, each TIC program is unique.  TIC has interdisciplinary applications in science, social studies, mathematics, language arts, fine arts, and physical education.


While the immediate goal of Trout in the Classroom is to increase student knowledge of water quality and coldwater conservation, its long-term goal is to reconnect an increasingly urbanized population of youth to the system of streams, rivers, and watersheds that sustain them.  Successful programs have helped:

  • connect students to their local environments and their local watersheds

  • teach about watershed health and water quality, and

  • get students to care about fish and the environment.​

In Virginia, the TIC program is available in those parts of the State served by active chapters of Trout Unlimited. There are active chapters in most, but not all of Virginia. In most years, over 200 schools participate.


The equipment costs to raise trout are $1,100 to $1,200. Most of the cost comes from a chilling unit which keeps the trout tank cool. Trout are raised in 55 gallon aquariums that are maintained at 50-55 degrees by the chilling unit.


In some cases, the local TU Chapters can provide some of the equipment necessary for the program, in others, the schools must write grants or obtain funding from other sources, it varies from year to year. Some chapters may even have waiting lists. The TU Chapters arrange delivery of the trout eggs, provide technical assistance, and help coordinate the release of fish.

If you’re a teacher in Virginia and would like to know if TIC is available in your area, and to receive contact information for your local Trout Unlimited Chapter, please contact:

Mike Makufka

Additional information is available at the national website at

The Pennsylvania TIC website has a good Aquarium Resource Guide

Teen Summit

Leadership, conservation, community, and fly fishing

The TU Teen Summit is an annual leadership conference for TU Teens that want to make a difference! The Summit recruits young leaders from rising freshman to rising seniors in high school that are committed to conservation and have demonstrated leadership in their communities.


If you’re a teen, join us for the Teen Summit to meet other TU Teens from across the country, learn how to become a TU leader in your community, build team and leadership skills, restore habitat on a service project, explore career paths in the outdoors and conservation, and – oh yeah! – FISH! Spend five days with a group of new friends that love fishing, the outdoors and TU as much as you do.


Things we do:

  • Conservation and eco-tours

  • Leadership and team-building skills workshops

  • Conservation and science sessions

  • Special guest speakers

  • Service project

  • Learn about local culture

  • Lots of time for hanging out, tying flies, and fishing!


Following the Summit experience, the attendees form TU’s Youth Leadership Council or YLC. The YLC stay involved with each other, their local community, and with TU staff throughout the year working on projects and outreach with the goal to raise TU’s profile among their peers and gain valuable experience.


Who Should Apply


Dedicated anglers and conservationists who have just completed 8th, 9th, 10th, or 11th grade. History of involvement with TU a plus.


Visit the Teen Summit website for more information

Stream Explorers Youth Membership

Trout Unlimited’s Stream Explorer membership offers kids a chance to learn about wild fish and the natural world. Now more than ever, kids need to be inspired to get outside and discover the fascinating life of trout and salmon and the rivers that sustain them. A Stream Explorers membership is a positive step toward creating the next generation of environmental stewards.

Benefits include issues of Stream Explorers or Trout magazine, a Trout Unlimited wall calendar, Trout Unlimited membership card, stickers, and fun!

Visit the Stream Explorers Web site for more information.

5 Rivers College Outreach Program

Trout in the Classroom
Teen Summit
Stream Explorers Youth Membership
5 Rivers College Outreach Program

Part of Trout Unlimited’s expanding Youth Education efforts, 5 Rivers promotes TU’s mission on college and university campuses around the country. Tomorrow’s conservation leaders are currently enrolled and on their way to becoming the scientists, policy makers, volunteers and anglers who will become the Trout Unlimited of the future. In order to sustain the success of its current protection and restoration of the country’s coldwater resources, TU must not only share this work with college students but give them the tools and encouragement necessary to create a new generation of conservationists.

Learn more about the 5 Rivers College Outreach Program on TU National’s Web site.

Click here for information about grant opportunities for 5 Rivers Clubs in Virginia.

First Cast Program

First Cast Program​

This far-reaching TU educational program is built around a curriculum that the late Phil Genova developed in order to teach kids how to fly fish, and many chapters and councils have turned to this informative resource to organize casting clinics and fishing lessons. First Cast materials also cover such topics as fundraising, safety, liability, and publicity so that any dedicated group of volunteers can utilize the program as an inclusive blueprint for their youth education event.

Download First Cast materials in PDF format on TU National’s Web site.

Boy Scout Fly Fishing Merit Badge

Boy Scout Fly Fishing Merit Badge

The Merit Badge has long been the standard by which Boy Scouts have proven competency and skill in a particular area, and a badge related to fly fishing and coldwater conservation makes perfect sense. Under guidelines approved by the Boy Scouts and TU in 2002, this unique program enables TU volunteers to act as “Merit Badge counselors” and work with a Scout as he practices and learns the 10 steps that lead to the earning of the Badge. Interested chapters can locate their local council and work with Troop leaders in a given region to make connections and get interested Scouts on the pathway to the Fly Fishing Merit Badge.

Teens in Action!

Teens in Action! from the TIA Alliance

From Trout Unlimited -- "Trout Unlimited, Izaak Walton League of America, and American Fisheries Society (collectively the ‘TIA Alliance’) have partnered to deliver a mission-based program for high schools focused on stream science and fisheries management. The program is called “Teens in Action!” 

This program offers students hands-on experience working on projects with biologists, college students and faculty, community leaders and other individuals interested in conservation and science. A successful model program launched in VA last year is the genesis for the Teens in Action!"

Visit the TIA Alliance site for more information.

VCTU Educational Grant Program

VCTU Educational Grant Program


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