As part of our initiative to support unique learning opportunities for all kinds of students, Time Timer recently sponsored the Trout Unlimited Teen Summit. Trout Unlimited offers multiple learning opportunities for kids of all ages, using fishing as a conduit for the learning.
The Trout Unlimited Teen Summit is an annual leadership conference for TU Teens that want to make a difference. The Summit recruits young leaders from rising freshman to rising seniors in high school that have proven commitment to TU’s coldwater conservation mission and have demonstrated leadership at a high level. Once they attend the Summit, this impressive group forms TU’s Youth Leadership Council or YLC. The YLC stay involved with each other, their local community, and with TU staff throughout the year working on projects and outreach with the goal to raise TU’s profile among their peers.
During five sessions at the Summit, teens broke up into groups and brainstormed not only a mission statement for 2019-2020 but also goals for their individual workgroups. Time Timer units helped guide all of these breakouts and kept the groups on track during discussions. Time Timer MOD + Dry Erase Board units were used as stations, and teens rotated through each, having fifteen minutes on the timer. Toward the end of the Summit, the entire group of teens had to synthesize their thoughts and used the Time Timer MAX to keep the conservation limited to each topic being discussed.
In this blog post, Connor Ford, one of the student participants, tells us about his experience at the Trout Unlimited Teen Summit.
My name is Connor Ford. I am a 17 year old kid from Holly, Michigan, and I was accepted to this year’s Trout Unlimited Teen Summit in Georgetown Lake, Montana. For any teen that loves fly fishing and is interested in conservation, the Summit is a dream come true. Five days of fishing for wild trout in wild places, experiencing local culture, working on a stream restoration project, and connecting with other amazing kids from across the country is what the Summit is about.
Coming to Montana from Michigan was definitely an eye opening experience for me in the sense that I now further understand how devastating certain activities can be on a community and on a fishery. I had this preconceived notion that the land out there and all of its wonders would be vast, beautiful, and untouched. I learned that yes, it was most positively vast and beautiful, but it was NOT untouched. Through a guided conservation tour from Tess Scanlon, Trout Unlimited’s Rock Creek Project Coordinator, I along with the other summiteers saw the effects of hard rock mining first hand. We visited two previous mining “supercenters” of Anaconda, MT and Butte, MT where we learned that over a century of mining and smelting for copper caused numerous environmental catastrophes. One prime example would be the distribution of highly toxic materials such as arsenic and cadmium hundreds of miles downstream along the Clark Fork River which is now the nation’s largest superfund site. We also experienced the Berkeley Pit mine which holds a beautiful yet toxic lake of highly acidic groundwater.
As terrible as these things are, it was very interesting not only to experience the significant role mining played in local culture, but also the significant role Trout Unlimited and other organizations have played in restoring these places. For example, we got to fish Silver Bow Creek, which acted as Butte’s industrial dumping ground for a century. However, today it supports a population of native westslope cutthroat, along with brook and rainbow trout. In my opinion, being able to catch native cutties in a stream that couldn’t support any fish just over a decade ago is quite the testament, and it feels awesome!
Although further work is still needed in Montana and across the country, from my Summit experience, I can see that good things are happening. I am super grateful to be a part of such an outstanding community of conservationists, and I will not forget my time spent in Montana any time soon. I’ll be back, that’s for sure. Finally, I can say that the future looks bright for many of our beloved streams, and it looks even brighter for Trout Unlimited.