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May 3, 2019

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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.

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April 30, 2019

TRCP Receives Accreditation from Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance

The organization scores high on transparency, financial accountability, and effectiveness

The Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, the arm of the well-known nonprofit that helps donors make informed giving decisions, has again recognized the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership as an accredited charity worthy of donor recognition.

The TRCP meets WGA’s 20 standards for charity accountability, including appropriate Board oversight, prudent spending, clearly defined measures of success, and transparent communication of policies and disclosures. The organization also earned a fresh Platinum Seal from Guidestar and its sixth four-star rating from Charity Navigator this spring.

“We are proud to uphold the highest standards across all our operations, but especially when it comes to wise spending of individual donations and foundation funding,” says Whit Fosburgh, TRCP’s president and CEO. “We hope this recognition, our top marks from other charity watchdogs, and the effectiveness of our advocacy all make American sportsmen and women confident that the TRCP is worthy of their hard-earned dollars.”

See the TRCP’s profile on the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance website.

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April 26, 2019

Podcast: Building Better Highway Crossings for Big Game on the Move

A perfect download for your next road trip, tune in to learn how wildlife use enhanced highway over- and underpasses

Photo by Wyoming Department of Transportation

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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.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

CHEERS TO CONSERVATION

Theodore Roosevelt’s experiences hunting and fishing certainly fueled his passion for conservation, but it seems that a passion for coffee may have powered his mornings. In fact, Roosevelt’s son once said that his father’s coffee cup was “more in the nature of a bathtub.” TRCP has partnered with Afuera Coffee Co. to bring together his two loves: a strong morning brew and a dedication to conservation. With your purchase, you’ll not only enjoy waking up to the rich aroma of this bolder roast—you’ll be supporting the important work of preserving hunting and fishing opportunities for all.

Learn More

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