It has been a pleasure serving as your president, as you all know I will be moving to Atlanta in the next couple of months. However I have had the chance to switch to a better shift (1st shift sat, sun, mon, and 2nd shift tues, wed) and I have taken it in the hopes that I will be able to keep the shift when I move to Atlanta. I am definitely not meant for third shift work. However this creates a problem with me being able to attend meetings up until my move. Someone will have to step up and cover the meetings; whoever is going to be covering the meetings needs to send me an agenda for the meeting a week prior to the meeting, this way I can get it up on the website. I will still be maintaining it and the social meeting aspects of our chapter until I can train someone else to do so (even if I have to do it from Atlanta).
The main issue that we face is that our chapter will need a new President, fortunately our guest speaker for May (Alleigh Raymond) has had to drop out from coming to speak account of family affairs. I highly recommend instead of having a program for this meeting our chapter make our May meeting into a business only meeting to elect a new president.
After talking with Dave Holladay, I do not think that the chapter needs to not take on anything other events unless we have already established them. However I do think the chapter needs to continue the Ballast Point Sunday Fly Tying every other week. Several people have express that maybe we just limit this to just once a month, but I think this is a horrible idea. The whole point of the event is to gather exposure/interest for our chapter and for us all to come together socially as a chapter. This event, in my opinion, has been a huge success and should continue to grow (especially since the chapter now has extra vices and tools for beginners). I also suggest that the new president talks with Ballast Point about having these events in the bar area more often to draw in people going to the bar, being hidden upstairs (even though it has great lighting) serves the chapter no purpose, it in fact almost defeats the purpose of us being there. Originally when I talked with Allison from Ballast Point we were to be downstairs as much as possible, I expressed my reasoning behind it and she agreed to work with us (only putting us upstairs when the brewery was hosting another event). After the year is over I would also suggest finding a brewery closer to downtown Roanoke that would be willing to host such an event, if you can not then continue them at Ballast Point.
I also think the same thing about the Iron Fly Events, even though I think it was a huge success and was a lot of fun, I was disappointed in the turn out from our members. There were more non-members that attended than there were actual members. This was great for why we were doing it, however I feel more support from the chapter is a must, especially with our next Iron Fly being held at GoFest.GoFest is the ultimate opportunity for our chapter to attract as many people as we can to the chapter. Every event at GoFest must be fun and a success. I suggest playing corn hole, fly casting demos, fly tying demos, advanced fly tying demos, and of course Iron Fly.
Another suggestion to the chapter is a change in venue from Hollins University. Yes the rooms they provide us with are immaculate and the media aspects give us a lot to work with. However the location does not encourage our vision of a younger generation taking over, granted it does encourage more diversity in the chapter, but I feel that some place like Roanoke College would be a better suited to attract a more diverse and younger generation for the chapter (especially since the Five Rivers Club is at Roanoke College).
In regards to TIC (after seeing what all is involved), our chapter needs to play a larger role in where the schools distribute the trout supplied to the schools by our chapter. Roaring Run is a great place to release fledging trout, but they do not stand a chance to survive if they are being released where the stocked trout are also being released. Also Wasena is a horrible place to release fledging brook trout, yes it might be convenient to the schools, but this has to be changed. Fledging brook trout have zero chance of surviving at Wasena park. Instead of these places I suggest to start releasing them in North Creek, where the Special Regulation sections start (there is a camp ground with very easy access there), and also instead of releasing the second batch at Wasena Park, our chapter should strongly encourage these trout to be released in the Delayed Harvest sections, at Goose Creek, Glade Creek, or somewhere on the Blue Ridge Parkway (there are tons of areas that will support wild trout on the Parkway above Bent Mountain). I think TIC is a great program and that it should always be supported, however what is the point of having these children/young adults raising these trout and not seeing any benefits from raising them in the future, this goes against one of our core missions of restoration/preservation for future generations.
Remember I was elected president as a way of thinking outside of the box; to bring in a more diverse younger generation or at least put our chapter on a track leading up to this. At first I was very hesitate, because of several personal reasons that I have had against Trout Unlimited as a whole, but I felt that in order to promote change I personally would have to step up and join to promote these changes. The first thing I did was to revamp our website (it must be maintained weekly), established a calendar of events (so that they people know well in advance of events that are coming up and to prevent overlapping events), and to establish a better social media presence for the chapter.
I feel like I have done a lot of these things and have the chapter in a good place to continue forward. However in regards to meetings being prodcasted online; our chapter might need to invest in a microphone, this has been our biggest complaint. Also those members that watch these videos (that are a part of our chapter) should sign in saying that they have watched it, this information will help with our attendance in our chapter’s minutes. On average we get up to 30 views per chapter meeting, however the February meeting got 129 views.But only a few comment or say they are watching it. Other than that our chapter must keep these changes up, as trends change our chapter must change to keep up with these trends. We must be seen out in the community, as a group, doing as much as possible in regards to Trout Unlimited’s core mission; “to conserve, protect, and restore North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds… so that by the next generation… our children can enjoy healthy fisheries in their home waters.”
My final advice: our chapter needs to realize that even though we live in Roanoke/Salem we are the Roanoke Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited and there are more streams to restore and protect other than just the Roanoke River, Glade Creek, and Tinker Creek. In fact as a chapter we should stretch out our arms more to help other chapters that might be failing to help restore and preserve streams, I personally have a whole list of streams that desperately need help being cleaned up and restored that. I know that these other chapters are ignoring these streams, but are well within our chapter’s range. And once again, we must as one of Virginia’s larger Trout Unlimited Chapter be seen doing as much as possible in the surrounding areas. Ultimately be open to new things and new events, if they fail then try another approach, but never give up.
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” ~ Winston Churchhill
J. Patrick Frazier