I have not been around here in awhile. Please bear with me on this as many of you will recognize the star of this post...and the thread or this thread originated here on this board.
Happy New Year
When I first started down the path of attempting to make a career out of fishing I realized that to just go out and self promote and basically charge people to go fishing with me and all of the other assorted stuff that goes along with being a professional angler is a dangerous slope. For me it seemed pretty meaningless without some kind of service or give back.
I am all for the missions of the conservation organizations and donate all I can to various groups - trips, custom rods, flies...the usual fund raising stuff. Habitat work is cool. Conservation is a must. I support it 100%
But to me and my way of thinking I wanted to have more of an impact. I wanted to give back to the sport and the resource in an ongoing and sustainable way...
One of the things about angling for a living is that it gives one a great deal of time to think and consider things. I can not tell you how many hours I spent contemplating a way for Afton Angler to justify being Afton Angler.
Then it hit me one day like a bolt out of the blue. To me it is clear what my mission is - habitat improvement way upstream in the watershed...at the grassroots level. Grow a good future crop of anglers!
To me it is all about the youth. They are the ones who will make the difference - and I can make a difference by helping them out.
There are many facets to this...working with Big Brothers/Big Sisters Pass It On is one way for me. Maybe exposing a kid to a positive outdoor experience will tip the scales...not just giving them something real to do and a possible lifelong passion...maybe it is just a one time thing - an exposure that is positive...you never know where the next Supreme Court Justice will come from and maybe that little city kid who got a fly casting lesson that one time will be the one making the tough decision down the road and that one positive experience will weigh in the matter...
I know that is out there thinking but like I said this profession gives one plenty of time to roll stuff around.
While working with BB/BS Pass It On is very rewarding and a great way to serve I wanted to do more.
So I came up with this idea for a Schoarship - The Afton Angler Scholarship Fund and in 2007 I found the first candidate in a young man named Weston Thier. I am proud to say that in the fall of 2008 I awarded the First Annual Afton Angler Scholarship to Weston.
Westons mom Wendy sent me a note at Christmas and enclosed this clipping. She wrote "...I'm sending along an article that was in the County Journal this fall in case you missed it. It was in their annual edition which featured area youth. Thought you would like it - just to let you know what a big part the two of you (my wife Jen and myself) have been. We are so grateful for all you've done to help him along the way."
This is why I do what I do folks.
Thanks for reading this. It is impotrant to me.
Weston is making an impact on society by introducing his fellow college students to fly fishing. He is acting as a mentor by organizing a fly fishing group on campus...being an example of what living a purposeful and passionate existance is all about and so much more.
I turn that is how I can impact the world and give back in my angling passion. I am working way up in the headwaters here sportsfans. I am proud to say that I am living my dream through this mission.
Now let me make a call to arms in 2009.
My hope is to continue this mission and to grow it to reach farther than my own meager out of pocket contribution will allow.
How do I do this? Utilize the angling fraternity...network!
Here is my plan. I'll detail it out specifically over the next couple of weeks. I am just planting a seed here and now.
First I could use contributions in the form of goods and services. I already have a pretty good stash of booty in the form of donated used fishing tackle, hunting gear, cool and unique hand made stuff as well as some vouchers for guided trips and property rentals...things that I can put on the block at a fundraiser.
I did a good deal of speaking around the area last year and always made a call for folks to just clean out their closets – donate things that they do not need but are still of use and in shape…
Bob White hit on this kind of thing in one of his essays recently (http://www.drakemag.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=10147) – the give away…you know freeing up your energy by lightening the load and getting a karma credit.
Hey if you are flush with cash then that type of donation will help as well. If you can swing it that is grand.
Second I could use some help in structuring this...partnership in things such as website development, legal services, promotion and advertising, etc.
Here is where this is going in 2009.
I want to form a nonprofit foundation called the Afton Angler Scholarship Fund. I’ll use the funds generated from the sale of donated goods and services to establish a trust or whatever form works best (this is where legal help would be appreciated). The nonprofit board will pick the candidate or candidates for the 2009 Scholarship as well as determine if there are other channels to apply the trust to in order to benefit the sport of fly fishing.
Third I want to spread the word for future candidates – please pass the message along.
I am putting out a call for scholarship applicants – any high school junior or senior who has an interest in fly fishing and is planning on some form of secondary education.
Again, I am humbled for your attention on this fellows. This is my way of flapping the butterfly wings to change the world.
Oh ya, you can also contribute in early May by buying something from the fundraiser…it’s sure to be really cool!
Stay tuned for updates as they happen.
Please use my email for any replies to this call to arms – email@example.com