Randall Williams

May 23, 2019

In the Arena: Jared Frasier

TRCP’s “In the Arenaseries highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation

Jared Frasier

Hometown: Manhattan, Montana
Occupation: Executive Director of 2% for Conservation
Conservation credentials: Encourages businesses and individuals to expand their involvement in the cause of conservation by pledging at least one percent of their time and one percent of their money to the future of fish, wildlife, and habitat.

Once you meet Jared Frasier, you’ll soon see him everywhere you go. That’s because this tireless advocate for fish and wildlife is boundlessly outgoing in his quest to build a community of conservation-minded sportsmen and women. Prior to taking the helm at the nonprofit 2% for Conservation, he was volunteering over 500 hours a year serving on boards and committees for other groups, traveling to conferences and conventions, speaking out when and where it matters, and bringing folks together for the future of hunting and fishing.

Here is his story.

When I was a few months old, my parents bundled me up and used a half-drilled ice fishing hole as a makeshift cradle while they chased tip-ups near our home in northern Wisconsin. It was about as early an introduction to the hunting and fishing lifestyle as I could have hoped for.

By age ten, I was helping to harvest, process, and cook all of the wild fish and game my family could legally pursue. We were not well-off, so the majority of the protein in our home was caught, shot, or trapped. Eating wild meat wasn’t a trendy experiment for us: It was a financial necessity.

And my outdoor experiences growing up also gave me a taste for adventure and wild places. My parents saved every penny they could and piled us all into their old pickup for a DIY, over-the-counter archery elk hunt in New Mexico, where we camped on public land in the family tent. That trip blew me away, flooding my young brain with new sensory experiences.

From my first day in view of Wheeler Peak, this Northern Wisconsin boy knew he had to live in the mountains.

I have two kids right around seven years old now, and I’m very conscious of the need to expose them to as many ecosystems and outdoor pursuits as possible. It’s amazing how new places and habitats can get under your skin and inspire you. I myself hope to experience as many wild landscapes as I can in every corner of the globe.

At this point in my life, I am happiest hunting and fishing where I know the populations of whatever species I am pursuing are in abundance. I’m absolutely invigorated by the efforts of others to ensure that future generations get the opportunity to roam “where the wild things are.”

Especially where I live, human housing and transportation development pose a serious threat to our wildlife. People are moving to the Bozeman area to enjoy the incredible outdoor opportunities we have in this part of Montana… and, as a result, our fish and wildlife are facing new pressures. Habitat is being fragmented and migration corridors are interrupted by new development. These resources can’t and won’t return once they are gone.

At the end of the day, we’re all simply borrowing wild resources from future generations. None of us own them. You can’t take them with you when you die. Unless you want to pass along a world covered in concrete and steel structures, you HAVE to be involved in conservation.

Photo credit: Paul Kemper

 

Do you know someone In the Arenawho should be featured here? Email info@trcp.org for a questionnaire.

One Response to “In the Arena: Jared Frasier”

  1. Love the post and so proud of my son Jared.
    Thanks for sharing this! It’s going in a frame in my man cave!
    Jared, you are a great husband, father, son, friend and advocate for our natural resources! Good job buddy.
    Grateful for all the moments we spent together in the outdoors and for the many we have yet to spend!
    Dad

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Kristyn Brady

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May 14, 2019

In the Arena: Henry Ramsay

TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation

Henry Ramsay

Hometown: Birdsboro, Pa
Occupation: Full-time human resources professional and part-time flyfishing writer, photographer, and custom fly-tier and instructor
Conservation Credentials: Helped to preserve working lands, environmentally sensitive areas, and outdoor recreation opportunities—like fishing and birdwatching—for future generations through various roles in local government

Henry Ramsay considers himself a torchbearer for the natural resources that have allowed him to spend a lifetime fishing, hiking, camping, taking photographs, and finding solace in the outdoors. His efforts to preserve public lands and waters for the next generation of sportsmen and women remind us that you don’t have to sit on a congressional committee or in the Oval Office to make a big difference for conservation. There’s a lot we can influence in our home towns and counties, if we care enough.

Here’s his story.

I caught my first trout at the age of five, and I was hooked about as well as that fish was. Fortunately, I also grew up in a family that constantly traveled and camped. I’ve always been attracted to the outdoors—more because of my love of nature than anything else. It’s not only a source of recreation; it’s a place of peace and contentment, so I fish, camp, hike, and take photographs as much as my time permits.

Of course, as a flyfisherman, a nice fly rod is one of my favorite pieces of gear and elevates the experience of being outdoors, but my DSLR camera is perhaps just as important. It’s always with me to capture images from my best experiences on the water.

I had plenty of those on a recent trip to Yellowstone, which was a lifelong dream of mine. We tent-camped in the park, fished 10 different streams and rivers, and hiked into a glacial lake to fish for Arctic grayling. During the day, we saw bison, elk, antelope, wolves, coyotes, and bighorn sheep. At night, we were serenaded by bugles and howls.

It was an incredible experience that stands out even after a lifetime of travels.

 

I’m fortunate to have fished in a number of states, but if forced to choose one it would be Idaho. The scenery is spectacular and the fishing is world-class. I love the Henry’s Fork where it flows through the Harriman Ranch. The fishing there is highly technical and challenging—I like that it forces me to be on form.

I’m primarily a trout fisherman, and you can’t find trout in environments that have been compromised by point-source pollutants, toxic runoff, or other things that detract from water quality. Wild trout simply can’t exist in less than high-quality water conditions—and that’s why clean water powers my outdoor life.

In a world where the human population is growing at a rapid pace, it is critical that we continue to examine our impact on the earth, the natural world, and all of the lifeforms we share it with. People alter the environment, and the choices we make can affect the environment positively or negatively—forever.

To leave my mark, I’ve been involved in various roles in local government, where I’ve been fortunate enough to help shape how our lands and waters are used. For example, collaborative work helped to permanently preserve the Birdsboro Waters, a 1,800-acre tract of unbroken forest within the Hopewell Big Woods of southeastern Pennsylvania. This is an important birding area, and Hay Creek, an exceptional trout stream, flows through it. I was part of the advisory body that defeated a proposed 800-unit residential development on 201 acres bisected by a state-designated coldwater trout stream. I also helped to create an Environmental Advisory Council in my township to review and consult on proposed land development activities.

Not all of the footprints left on the earth are made by feet—many of them are a result of our choices. My hope is that improvements made to public lands and waters during my lifetime won’t be easily erased by politics and profiteers. We need to leave healthier habitat for future generations.

This is why I concern myself with the deregulation of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Antiquities Act. These rollbacks pose a huge threat to all of the efforts that have taken place since the early 1970s.

The other challenge I see is the lack of involvement and education of our youth in the outdoors. When I can no longer carry the torch to defend what we treasure, I hope a new generation of torchbearers can take my place. But too many children today do not get the exposure to the outdoors that they’d need to be sensitive to conservation issues. It’s a threat to fishing and the places where we fish.

Kristyn Brady

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May 1, 2019

In the Arena: Jess Westbrook

TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation

Jess Westbrook

Hometown: Benton, Arkansas
Occupation: Fishing guide, founder of the Mayfly Project
Conservation credentials: Taking foster children flyfishing to create meaningful connections in the outdoors and share the value of clean water

As a lifelong sportsman and former Alaska fishing guide, Jess Westbrook recognized that the stress-mitigating benefits of the outdoors that he’d experienced could help at-risk youth to find the solace and self-esteem they need. That’s why he started the Mayfly Project, a nonprofit that connects foster kids with flyfishing mentors who help them forge deeper bonds on the water.

Here’s his story.

I was introduced to the outdoors as a young kid by my father. We were always spending time together on the weekends hunting and fishing in Arkansas, where we had access to some of the best duck hunting and trout fishing in the U.S.

The summer before my senior year of college, I had my most memorable outdoor adventure to date: guiding in Alaska. Through that experience, I learned a lot about myself, my capabilities as a guide, and what it means to live in a place that is still vastly untouched. This opened my eyes to the effects that humans have on our planet and the need to preserve wild places for future generations to enjoy.

Even years later, if I could fish anywhere in the world it would be back in Bristol Bay. I’ve landed four of the five species of salmon that return to Alaska each year—sockeye, coho, pink, and chum—all on a fly, but I have yet to land a King!

I have struggled with anxiety, and the outdoors is a place where I am able to unplug. So, getting outside is critical for my mental health. The stresses of everyday life are lost when I step into a river with my fly rod. And conservation ensures that there are places for me to seek out healing.

That’s why conservation is an integral part of the Mayfly Project. We give foster kids their first taste of flyfishing to teach them a fun, rewarding hobby, make them feel supported, and give them a chance to develop meaningful connections with, and in, the outdoors.

The Mayfly Project’s standard program is to mentor a foster child through five “stages” based on the life cycle of a Mayfly. Within these stages, the children learn line management, casting techniques, knot tying, entomology, river safety, mending tactics, hook setting, catch and release ethics, and the value of conservation. At the end of the five stages the child is given his or her very own fly rod, reel, pack, fly box, flies, tippet, and indicators. Our hope is for the child to continue to pursue flyfishing and have the tools they need to make the outdoors more accessible.

We focus a lot on the value of our local water ecosystems and keeping rivers clean by picking up trash on every outing. One of the biggest conservation issues where I live is the spread of invasive species in warm-water and cold-water fisheries, so we also share with the kids why it’s important for us to wash our gear and boats before moving from one body of water to another.

Studies show that 42 percent of foster children will be convicted of a crime. But flyfishing offers opportunities for youth to build character and self-esteem. These kids are the future, and they will be the ones to ensure that their children have a place to fish. But we have to make them care enough to fight that fight.

 

Do you know someone “In the Arena” who should be featured here? Email info@trcp.org for a questionnaire.

Randall Williams

April 26, 2019

In the Arena: Nikki Plum

TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation

Nikki Plum

Hometown:  Airville, Pa.
Occupation: Registered nurse
Conservation credentials: Boots-on-the-ground volunteer work and mentoring

Sportsmen and women like Nikki Plum are the beating heart of conservation in this country. A nurse by training, this 28 year old is a jack-of-all-trades volunteer, working to ensure the future of our outdoor traditions. From stocking fish to assisting with banding waterfowl and building nesting structures, she knows that a single afternoon of work can make a difference. That’s why she also works to share her experiences with others, empowering the next generation of women hunters as a field staffer with the Sisterhood of the Outdoors.

Here is her story.

When I was growing up, you couldn’t keep me out of the creek—so I would say I have been into fishing as long as I can remember. It wasn’t until I was a teenager, however, that I got into the outdoors on another level.

My uncle took me out for my first deer hunt on opening day of rifle season in Pennsylvania. We split up after a slow morning, and moments later I heard shots ring out from his direction. I thought I’d missed my chance. Suddenly, I heard something approaching in the woods and turned to see a six-point buck headed my way. I was too excited to make my first shot, but a well-aimed second downed the deer in his tracks.

I was hooked.

I spent most of the ensuing years trying to grow as a deer hunter. Then I started pursuing small game, turkeys, and waterfowl. My skills and interests evolved as I transitioned from rifle hunting to archery and from spinning tackle to a fly rod.

Looking ahead, I hope to hunt and fish in Alaska someday. Harlequin ducks, moose, grizzlies, and multiple species of salmon are all at the top of my list.

Clean water is what makes my outdoor activities possible, from fishing and waterfowl hunting to boating, swimming, kayaking, and camping. Maintaining healthy watersheds is important to sustaining our freshwater fisheries and wetlands habitat.

Every day it seems like urbanization encroaches on these resources, bringing the potential for degradation. It’s harder to get away from noise and light pollution, and contaminants of all kinds make their way into our air and water.

Without the commitment of sportsmen and women, our outdoor resources would be subject to overuse and abuse by an ever-growing human population. I do what I do because conservation helps maintain a natural way of life for hunters, anglers, and the game we love to chase. I hope others are inspired to do what they can, too.

 

Do you know someone “In the Arena” who should be featured here? Email info@trcp.org for a questionnaire.

Kristyn Brady

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April 16, 2019

In the Arena: William Kosmer

TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation

William Kosmer

Home waters: North-central Pennsylvania
Occupation: Outdoor photographer, flyfishing guide, and full-time hydrogeologist
Conservation credentials: Has spent 15 years volunteering to restore streams and advocate for wild trout

We’re betting that William Kosmer’s waders are practically never dry. Between his day job, his guiding business, and his volunteer work to help restore some of Pennsylvania’s best wild trout waters, Kosmer still finds time to teach kids about fishing and the hidden world of creepy crawlies that support the riparian ecosystem. But he says he’s not alone: There is a vibrant community of flyfishermen, outdoor recreation businesses, and educators invested in cleaner water for the next generation of anglers.

Here’s his story.

I would have to say my love of fishing started with my father. He introduced me to the outdoors and photography from an early age, and I really haven’t looked back since.

But it’s concerning to see the decline in license sales—kids just aren’t getting introduced to the outdoors like I did. Through Trout Unlimited, I volunteer to guide veterans, teach kids to tie flies, and get people interested in fishing, generally. When kids start turning over rocks and finding bugs, they can’t believe all that has been down there the whole time—it’s always a big crowd pleaser. We also bring trout into the classroom, where kids can raise brook trout eggs and fry into full-grown fish and eventually release them into the stream.

I believe that conservation is not just about protecting the resources we currently have, it’s also about striving to improve them for future generations. And clean water is the key element that powers all our outdoor lives. Without it, nothing worth anything exists.

I fish all over the state of Pennsylvania, but southern Chile is my second home and the site of my most memorable outdoor adventures. It has some of the most incredible scenery and fishing I have ever had the opportunity experience and, not coincidentally, some of the cleanest water on the planet. It’s almost untouched by humans and there are a lot of wetlands to filter out pollutants and keep it that way.

Meanwhile, water use and pollution are two of the biggest conservation challenges where I live most of the year. Especially down in the Harrisburg area and in farming communities, trees were clear cut years ago and uncontrolled runoff has put a lot of sediment in the streams. That really impacts the macro-invertebrates that fish eat. So, as volunteers, we’ll do riparian buffer plantings with grasses and trees that hold the sediment back. We also install some in-stream structures to mobilize the water, create more current, and move that sediment along.

Trout prefer a cooler temperature, so when you remove all those trees, you also allow the sun to heat the water as the sediment slows the water down. You end up with a wider, warmer shallow stream, which isn’t as beneficial for trout as a deeper, cooler stream. We actually classify temperature as a pollutant.

This work that we do to curb sediment in Pa. has far-reaching benefits: It helps the fishing up here, but it also keeps a lot of that sediment from reaching the Chesapeake Bay, where many of my friends guide and fish. So, I’m used to thinking about the impact of my actions on what happens downstream. Not everybody does.

We’re so lucky to have a lot of clean water and streams that have made a comeback. And there are many volunteers and businesses who are generous with their time and money. (I’m pretty sure TCO Fly Shop, for example, supports every TU chapter around the state!)

But the east coast population and industries are extremely taxing on our waterways. There is a long history of abusing our water resources, especially in Pa. We can allow for economic growth and still utilize what we have in a responsible manner.

And we need to keep sharing our love of fishing with others. I’m 40 and I’m usually the young guy in the room—that’s not good. Because as much as any of us would like to have the water to ourselves, if no one is using these resources then no one will care about them.

Follow William Kosmer’s adventures on his blog. Do you know someone “In the Arena” who should be featured here? Email info@trcp.org for a questionnaire.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

WHAT WILL FEWER HUNTERS MEAN FOR CONSERVATION?

The precipitous drop in hunter participation should be a call to action for all sportsmen and women, because it will have a significant ripple effect on key conservation funding models.

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