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. 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.
In the program, students and teachers raise trout from fertilized eggs supplied by VDGIF hatcheries, in aquariums equipped with special chillers designed to keep the water near 50 degrees F. The students make daily observations of water quality parameters and record their data, plot trends, and make sure that the water quality is sufficient to support trout development. The fingerlings, which hatch in late October, are almost an inch and a half long by mid-January. Towards the end of the school year, students will release the fry into VDGIF approved watersheds.
TIC programs have been in place all across the country for more than 20 years, and are the result of numerous collaborations between teachers, volunteers, government agencies, and local organizations like Trout Unlimited. The programs were designed specifically for teachers who wanted to incorporate more environmental education into their curriculum.
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 has been operating for over 10 years. During the 2014-15 school year, over 230 schools with 242 TIC tanks participated in the program. Most schools coordinate the program through their local chapter of Trout Unlimited. In some cases, the 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. The TU Chapters provide the trout eggs, technical assistance, and help coordinate the release of fish.
If you’re a teacher in Virginia and would like more details, or would like to contact your local Trout Unlimited Chapter, please contact:
Tri-State Conservation & Fishing Camp
The Tri-State Trout Camp is an exciting week of hands-on activities for high school students who want to combine their enthusiasm for fishing with an interest in learning more about conservation. It is a joint project of Trout Unlimited in Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Staff and faculty members are drawn from federal and state environmental agencies, professional fishing guides, conservation teachers, and experienced members of Trout Unlimited and other organizations actively involved in conservation and fishing. Campers study stream conservation and restoration, hydrology, water and air quality and pollution, fish habitat and watershed protection, and vertebrate and insect populations. They also learn how to use fly and spinning tackle to effectively and responsibly catch fish, and how to tie the flies that imitate the insects that fish eat, including those found in Shenandoah National Park’s trout streams.
Visit the Tri-State Trout Camp 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
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
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
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! 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!"