FTTU Banquet Draws Enthusiastic Crowd
Inside the Outdoors, March 7
, 2014

There may have been a slight chill in the air, but that didn’t stop area residents from motoring to Forbes Trail Trout Unlimited’s 41st Annual Banquet and Raffle held again this year at the Latrobe American Legion. Excitement filled the air as 176 men, women and children were on hand to help support the only fundraiser of the year.

After giving a brief introduction all eyes were on Leo Vensel as he announced the winner of two prestigious awards that were given.

“As we always do, we have awards to present,” the newly-elected president stated. “This is one of the best parts of banquet, if you ask me, because it highlights individual’s efforts on a voluntary basis who have stepped up and made a difference.”

“The first award tonight, the Russ Mowry Memorial Silver Trout Award, goes to E. Lyle Farr,” Vensel stated. “The Greensburg resident was awarded this certificate because of his stewardship of the chapter’s finances for the last four years. He has also contributed to the youth conservation and fly fishing program that has been named “Best in the State.”

Farr award

Farr was also given a box of flies as an extra gift.

Russ Mowry was a legendary fly tier from Latrobe, president of FTTU and long-time active member. He and Latrobe’s Ken Igo invented the Green Weenie, a popular trout fly that has been in demand now all over the world.

The second presentation was the Ed Bordas Memorial Business Service Award. Recipient this year was Latrobe resident and executive director of the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor, Olga Herbert.

Herbert award

According to Vensel, “Olga was the driving force behind the Laurel Highlands Trout Trail. It promoted tourism, education and conservation program using ‘trouting’ to motivate local residents as well as tourists to enjoy our area’s main state parks, forests, businesses and lodging partners. It’s really a great opportunity for everyone to prosper,” the Export resident said.

Ed Bordas had a keen interest in FTTU. As a member, he not only believed in, but also supported the organization’s goals of conservation, restoration of resources and education of youth. He contributed much to the chapter, as well. The former industrial arts teacher for Greensburg Salem Junior High School taught members and youth how to tie flies to catch steelhead, in particular, a fish he enjoyed catching the most. Everything he learned while out in the streams, he shared with members of the organization.

Vensel, a licensed Pennsylvania fishing guide who has taught 100’s of sportsmen and women to fly fish, said, “One of my main goals as president is to drive up the FTTU membership. Hopefully members will have enjoyed themselves to the point of inviting friends to join our organization,” he said. One can log onto FTTU’s website, www.forbestrailtu.org, for further information.

“Also,” he said, “The members and officers of FTTU wish to extend a special thank you to The Loyalhanna Watershed Association for the use of the W.W.A. facility for our meetings and events.”

In addition to Vensel, others serving in administrative capacities include Angela DiFiore, vice-president, Monty Murty, treasurer and Scott minster, secretary. Directors include: Drew Banas, Lou Izzo, Ralph Koscianski, Chuck Kuchta, Hank Balles, Mike Johnson, Don Kowatch and Bob Shusko. Tom Evans and Russ Mason are Senior Directors Emeritus.

The banquet is the chapter’s one major fundraiser effort. It supports work in youth education – The Forbes Trail Youth Fly Fishing and Conservation Program and Trout in the Classroom, stream habitat work on Mill Crefi and Rock Run and water monitoring program.

The Latrobe-based organization meets monthly on the third Wednesday of each month in the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve near St. Vincent College accessed of St. Route 981 near the Dairy Queen, beginning promptly at 7 p.m. The public is invited attend. For more information, visit the website mentioned above.


- Paul J. Volkmann
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