FTTU Given State Award
Inside the Outdoors, October 14
, 2011

Forbes Trail Chapter has received Trout Unlimited’s 2011 Dr. Jack Beck Award for Outstanding Youth Outreach. At its annual meeting Oct. 1st, the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited presented the chapter the highest award for providing outstanding environmental education, coldwater conservation and trout-oriented outdoor recreation opportunities to the youth of Westmoreland County.

This award recognizes the time and energy contributed by members in programs that educate our youth and impact conservations of the future. Forbes Trail’s noteworthy youth programs include the First Cast Youth Fly Fishing program where boys and girls learn trout stream conservation along with fly tying and fly fishing.

The program includes science field trips and mentored fly fishing on local trout streams, as well as a weekend Steelhead fishing trip to Erie. The chapter also sponsors four Trout in the Classroom programs helping over 500 seventh graders in Latrobe and Ligonier raise trout from eggs and release them into the wild.

In addition to the major programs, the chapter conducts a Sportsmen’s Saturday Fly Fishing Derby where kids are introduced to catch and release trout fishing. They assist the local watershed association presenting an in-stream science program during school picnic days at Idlewild Park.

FTTU also partners with the local YMCA presenting fly fishing programs for women and girls. It also works with landowners to create youth-friendly trout fish areas. Habitat projects are also conducted with disadvantaged kids and the local Boy Scouts to earn their Fly Fishing Merit Badge.

The late Dr. John Beck, former member of PCTU and advocate for youth programs once stated, “If we give the best and the brightest students a bit of knowledge today, when they become their communities’ leaders in a few years, it will pay off.”

In an article written on May 23rd in The Latrobe Bulletin by Chris Ulicne, titled “FTTU fly fishing program lures youth outdoors,” he wrote, “The aim of the Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited (FTTU)’s annual youth program is to encourage teens to venture outdoors and present them with an engaging challenge that’s both fun and educational – and also to lure them away from the typical distractions that fill their everyday lives, like television, computers and video games, according to program founder Drew Banas.”

In Ulicne’s story, one of the youth made reference to how great it was to be mentored while fishing on the Loyalhanna Creek by program volunteers all the time improving his fishing skills.

“Those volunteers,” Banas said, “are an extremely important part of the program, because having an experienced mentor on hand to offer pointers and encouragement can really make a difference and help keep the youth motivated.”

Also, FTTU was runner-up with the chapter’s largest membership increase.

Trout Unlimited is America’s largest organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring coldwater streams and preserving our heritage of trout angling. Pennsylvania has more miles of trout streams than any state other than Alaska, and has the largest state TU organization with 55 chapters and more than 14,000 members. Our local FTTU chapter has been bring trout stream conservation to Westmoreland County for more than 40 years.

The Latrobe-based organization meets monthly on the third Wednesday of each month in Winnie Palmer Nature Center near St. Vincent College beginning at 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

For more information, visit Forbes Trail’s website at www.forbestrailtu.org.

- Paul J. Volkmann
Contact me by email

To buy my book, Off the Wall Favorites, call me at 724-539-8850.