I received The Trails, a Forbes Trail Trout Unlimited (FTTU) newsletter recently, stating the many ways the organization has reached out to the community, and what’s ahead in the future. It’s a known fact that it has always been concerned about conservation, restoration and education of youth and adults.

Annually, FTTU has educated youth by developing a program called Trout in the Classroom. Made possible by a unique partnership between the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited (PATU) and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), Pennsylvania Trout in the Classroom (PA TIC) is an interdisciplinary environmental education program in which students (grades 3-12) learn about current and past impacts, management and protection and enhancement opportunities of Pennsylvania’s watersheds and cold-water resources.

Starting this month in one of the classrooms in Ligonier Valley Middle School, an aquarium will be filled with water and necessary equipment will be added under the advisement of FTTU members. After all is in place, the school will receive trout eggs directly delivered from the PFBC hatchery. The youth can then watch the trout mature. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, FTTU members are not able to assist teachers in the school but could serve as advisors.

Each PA TIC program is unique and has applications in environment and ecology, science, math, social studies, language and fine arts, and physical education, while students explore myriad topics like trout life cycles, aquatic adaptions, water resource conservation, and watersheds. At the end of the year the trout will be released into a “Stocked Trout Waterway,” or a state approved stream near the school or within a nearby watershed.

Plans are being made concerning the Ligonier Valley Middle School Outdoor Club. Plans are being made to assist for FTTU instructors to assist with the cold-water conservation education and fly-tying sessions during winter months. As always, COVID-19 guidelines will be in place. Alternative measures will be followed if need-be.

A student is once again being sponsored by FTTU to attend the Rivers Conservation and Fly-Fishing Youth Camp at Messiah University (once Messiah College) June 19-24. Located in Mechanicsburg, Pa., the camp is co-ed for ages 14-17. Instructions include fly fishing, fly tying, the principles of stream ecology, cold-water conservation, and much more. Students experience on-stream and in-classroom training and work on a stream project to repair habitat.

The deadline for applications is Feb. 28. FTTU is interested in sponsoring at least one local student to attend the camp. To apply or for more information, visit www.riverscamp.com.

During the September 2021 meeting, Nicholas Vargo, last year’s FTTU’s sponsored student, not only wrote the organization a letter of appreciation after attending Messiah College but also gave a slide presentation.

This is how his letter (dated July 10, 2021) read:

“I am writing this letter in thanks to Forbes Trail for their sponsorship to the 2021 Rivers Camp. I am thankful for the opportunity that was given as it helped me not only understand the art of fly fishing, but also improve my knowledge of the conservation of our rivers and streams. During Rivers Camp I realized the absolute need to protect our natural streams and environment, not only for my generation, but for many more after me. Not only did I learn about protecting our streams and habitat, but I also learned how to fly fish. Even as a child I always had an interest in fly fishing, but I never had someone to teach me. In this camp, I learned techniques of casting and also about life in streams and how to identify them. I feel as my life and my career continue, I will always think back to this amazing opportunity and remember the importance of the conservation of streams.”

Added FTTU Secretary Scott Minster of Bradenville: “Looks like he’s catching on to this fly-fishing thing pretty well and by the contents of his thank-you note, he really ‘gets it’ about TU’s mission, too!”

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