Protect Nature: Take a Kid Fishing

All sportsmen and women understand their obligation to
conservation—without the resource, we have nothing. Many great organizations operate around the globe working
hard to serve the species, habitats and ecosystems that need our immediate
attention. To do our part, we find a compelling effort, and if possible, give them our time, money, sweat,
endorsement, or whatever we can afford. Flip through the Orvis catalog or browse
the website and you’ll find a handful of environmental projects well worth

But there is another way to protect our natural resources:
take a kid fishing. Or hunting. Or hiking or bird
watching. It can be your son, granddaughter, niece, brother, or
a family friend down the street. Find an activity that inspires them—something to tear them away from
their Wii or Playstation 3—and get them outdoors.

For the last eight years, I’ve worked for PRO Outfitters in Montana as a fly fishing and bird hunting guide. Recently, we established the first Orvis Endorsed Fly-Fishing Camp for Kids, hosting campers for a week in August at our fishing
lodge on the North Fork of the Blackfoot River. We cover the essentials—casting, knot tying, fly tying, entomology,
reading water, etc.—and the campers get to go fishing with a guide every
afternoon. The kids have a blast and throughout the week I get to watch them learn and laugh as the sport of fly
fishing seeps into their bloodstream.

On the last two days of the camp, we team up with the local
TU chapter and other organizations to offer kid-friendly conservation
workshops. The kids eat it up. Initially, I was shocked, thinking kids would
rather learn to tie a woolly bugger than talk about habitat restoration, right?
During the first workshop, the campers energetically participated, and the
hours flew by. At the end of camp, I realized fly fishing had let these kids to connect with the fisheries and
land around them. The trout, the streams, the valley—they all had become part of the kids’ DNA.

But you don’t need a fishing lodge, or guides, or even a
blue-ribbon trout stream to achieve the same results. Children love soaking up anything fun. Give them the
opportunity to connect to the environment through an activity like fly fishing
and let them run with it while you help them appreciate and respect their
connection to the natural resources. The trout streams, duck marshes, woods, ponds, fields and lakes will
become their playground, and they will quickly realize that these playgrounds
are truly special, unique, and finite. These experiences and places will become part of their childhood
identity, staking claim to a soft spot in their hearts for the rest of their

Many passionate and generous people have stepped up to the plate to
protect and preserve the resources we all treasure. But it is a timeless campaign—one that should be concerning
and exciting to us all. Help build and shape the next generation of conservationists, as their future
responsibilities will be ten times more critical than the monumental ones we
face today.

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