In 2015, Orvis created the Breaking Barriers Award to honor individuals who have gone above and beyond to introduce the sport of fly fishing to a more diverse audience. Past recipients have created programs for inner-city youth, under-served veterans, women, Alaskan natives, breast-cancer patients, and children in foster care.
We usually give out the award at a gala event during the annual Orvis Guide Rendezvous. Although this year’s event wasn’t possible, we are proud to present the 2020 Breaking Barriers Award to Bri Dostie, founder of Confluence Collective, a national organization committed to fostering inclusivity in the sport of fly-fishing. Dostie has made great strides in her work to cultivate mindful and welcoming learning environments that support inclusive access and sustainable practice both on and off the water.
Dostie grew up in the woods and waters of rural Maine, spending as much time as she could outside. She caught her first brook trout at age six, casting into a stream with her mom using a metal lure her grandfather had suggested. The deeper she ventured into the world of fly-fishing, the more she recognized the less-than-supportive attitude women in the sport often received. She saw a need to expand networks within the sport that would provide comfortable and welcoming spaces for learning and sharing.
An optimist with an uncompromising work ethic, Dostie founded Confluence Collective with the goal of increasing inclusivity in the sport through three pillars: community, environmental stewardship, and education.
“We’re looking to get more diverse voices into the conversation of what fly fishing will become,” says Dostie. “Our goal is to create community and experiences that are more accessible to diverse populations everywhere, and support those in the industry who join us in this mission.”
Confluence Collective launched fly-fishing exchanges in the summer of 2019 to connect distant communities of fly fishers, bringing them together to learn from local anglers and experts in a supportive, welcoming and accessible environment. Exchanges incorporate education about local resources and sustainable usage, as well as mindfulness workshops that examine the ways culture influences experiences on and off the water.
Previous Breaking Barriers Award Winners:
2015–Chad Brown of Soul River Runs Wild & Lori-Ann Murphy of Reel Women
2016–Nelli Williams of the Bristol Bay Fly Fishing and Guide Academy
2017– Jess Westbrook, founder of The Mayfly Project
2018–Whitney Milhoan, executive director of Casting for Recovery.
2019--Tracy Nguyen-Chung, the founder of Brown Folks Fishing.