Code of Ethics
At TU we are committed to honest and ethical behavior and to accomplishing our mission with integrity. Integrity in all aspects of our operations is key to our success as a credible broker of scientifically and economically responsible conservation solutions. This Code of Ethics is designed to put in place a system to ensure we are aware of and can take prompt action against any questionable behavior. It is also intended to help each of us focus on the duty we owe to each other, to the public, and to others with whom we do business to conduct ourselves at all times with integrity and in a way which would always make us proud if our actions were reported in the front page of our local newspapers. This Code applies to each and every one of TU’s volunteers on the chapter and council level. We each are responsible for safeguarding and promoting TU's reputation. Of course, doing the right thing won't always be easy. Many situations will involve subtleties and complexities that lead to difficult choices. When in doubt, take a step back to ask yourself whether the situation feels right, and consider whether you feel confident that your actions would withstand scrutiny. If necessary, take another careful look at this Code for guidance and seek advice from Volunteer Operations staff. Your actions should not have even the appearance of impropriety. You should be able to feel comfortable that your actions would not embarrass yourself, your fellow volunteer leaders or TU's membership should it turn out that your conduct becomes “front page” news.
TU chapter or council assets must be safeguarded and used only for accomplishing TU’s mission. This includes, without limitation, protection (including from loss or theft) of the TU chapter or council’s physical facilities, office equipment (including for example, all computer-related equipment, furniture and supplies), computer software, records and donor information. Employees also must safeguard TU’s trademarks and other proprietary information, as further discussed in the section “Confidential Information.”
TU and every volunteer acting in TU’s name must obey and comply with all applicable laws and regulations. It is every volunteer’s responsibility to be aware of and to comply with legal requirements applicable to his/her position.
Openness and Disclosure
It is TU’s responsibility to provide comprehensive and timely information to the public, the media, and all stakeholders about its operations upon request. All information about the organization will fully and honestly reflect TU’s current operations. In raising funds, TU will respect the rights of donors, as follows:
- To be informed of TU’s mission, the way the resources will be used and TU’s capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purposes;
- To be informed of the identity of those serving on the organization’s Board of Trustees and to expect the board to exercise prudent judgment in its stewardship responsibilities;
- To have access to the organization’s most recent financial reports;
- To be assured that all restricted gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given;
- To receive appropriate acknowledgement and recognition;
- To be assured that information about donations is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by the law;
- To expect that all relationships with individuals representing TU will be professional in nature;
- To be informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers, employees of the organizations, or hired solicitors;
- To have the opportunity for their names to be deleted from mailing lists that TU intends to share; and,
- To feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful and forthright answers.
While TU strives to be as open as possible about its operations, certain information is by nature confidential and should not be disclosed to the public, including, but not limited to:
- All donor and member personal information;
- Information relating to hiring decisions, and to current, former and prospective employees; and
- Financial reports and data that have not been formally reported to the public through presentations to the Board of Trustees, Federal Form 990, 990N, or audited financial statements. Such information represents a valuable corporate asset that should be protected as we protect other valued assets.
Conflicts of Interest
Volunteers must avoid any personal activity, investment or association that could interfere with or could appear to interfere with good judgment concerning TU's best interests. Volunteers may not use TU property, information or position for personal gain, including taking for yourself personal opportunities that are discovered through the use of TU property, information or position. Volunteers should avoid even the appearance of such a conflict. For example, there is a likely conflict of interest if an employee
- causes TU to engage in business transactions with relatives or friends;
- uses nonpublic TU, donor or vendor information for personal gain by you, relatives or friends (including securities transactions based on such information);
- has more than a modest financial interest in TU's vendors, donors or competitors; or
- competes, or prepares to compete, with TU while still serving on the chapter or council board of directors.
There are other situations in which a conflict of interest may arise. Any volunteer who becomes aware of any material transaction or relationship that could reasonably be expected to give rise to such a conflict of interest, or has concerns about any situation, must follow the steps outlined in the section "Reporting Violations."
No volunteer may take unfair advantage of anyone through manipulation, concealment, abuse of privileged information, misrepresentation of material facts, or any other unfair-dealing practice. Volunteers should endeavor to deal fairly with the TU’s donors, suppliers, competitors and employees.
Gifts, Bribes and Kickbacks
Other than for modest gifts or benefits given or received in the normal course of business (including travel or entertainment,) no volunteer may give gifts to, or receive gifts from, TU's donors and vendors. In no event should a volunteer put TU or himself/herself in a position that would be embarrassing if the gift were made public. Dealing with government employees often is different from dealing with private persons. Many governmental bodies strictly prohibit the receipt of any gratuities by their employees, including meals and entertainment. Volunteers must be aware of and strictly follow such prohibitions. Any volunteer who pays or receives bribes or kickbacks will be subject to corrective action, and reported, as warranted, to the appropriate authorities. A kickback or bribe includes any item intended to improperly obtain favorable treatment.
No volunteer may request or accept a loan from TU national, a TU chapter or council.
No TU funds may be given directly to political candidates. Volunteers may, however, engage in political activity with your own resources on your own time, subject to applicable law and the TU policies and rules governing such political activity.
Any volunteer who becomes aware of a suspected violation of law, TU policy, or any provision of this Code, whether before or after it has occurred, must promptly report it to Volunteer Operations staff. Any volunteer who remains concerned after speaking with Volunteer Operations staff, or feels uncomfortable speaking with such persons (for whatever reason,) should contact TU’s Chief Executive Officer. In any such situation, the volunteer will be protected from retaliation for initiating a report under this section.
- Statement of Philosophy: TU has a longstanding commitment to a culture that respects the dignity and worth of each individual. Inappropriate behavior and unlawful harassment create conditions that are wholly inconsistent with this commitment. The purpose of the policy set forth below is not to regulate the personal morality of volunteers, but rather to foster an environment that is free from all forms of harassment, whether that harassment is because of race, color, gender, age, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law.
- Discriminatory Harassment Prohibited: Discriminatory harassment, including sexual harassment, will not be tolerated by TU. This policy applies to all harassment occurring in any TU-related setting, and applies regardless of the gender of the individuals involved.
- Sexual Harassment Defined: For purposes of this policy, sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: submission to such conduct is either explicitly or implicitly made a term or condition of an individual’s involvement with the chapter or council; or submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for involvement with the chapter or council; or such conduct creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.
- Other Harassment Defined: For purposes of this policy, other harassment is defined as verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual because of his/her race, color, gender, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law, and that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.
- Reporting Discriminatory Harassment: TU strongly encourages the prompt reporting of all incidents of discriminatory harassment. If you believe you are being harassed or have observed harassment, TU encourages you to notify promptly Volunteer Operations Staff
- Investigation: When a volunteer reports harassment as specified above, TU will undertake a prompt investigation appropriate to the circumstances. The steps to be taken during the investigation cannot be fixed in advance, but will vary depending upon the nature of the allegations. Confidentiality will be maintained throughout the investigative process to the extent practicable and consistent with TU’s need to undertake a full investigation.
- Resolving the Matter: Upon completion of the investigation, appropriate remedial action will be taken, if necessary and supported by the facts.
- Non-retaliation: An individual who reports incidents that the volunteer, in good faith, believes to be violations of this policy, or who is involved in the investigation of harassment, will not be subject to reprisal or retaliation. Retaliation is a serious violation of this policy and should be reported immediately. The report and investigation of allegations of retaliation will follow the procedures set forth in this policy. Any person found to have retaliated against an individual for reporting discriminatory harassment or participating in an investigation of allegations of such conduct will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.
THE INFORMATION PROVIDED AND PROCEDURES SET FORTH IN THIS PUBLICATION DO NOT CONFER CONTRACTUAL RIGHTS OF ANY KIND UPON ANY VOLUNTEER OR THIRD PARTY OR CREATE CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS OF ANY KIND.
Founded over 50 years ago on the banks of the Au Sable River near Grayling, Michigan, the 16 fishermen who gathered at the home of George Griffith were united by their love of trout fishing, and by their growing disgust with the state’s practice of stocking its waters with “cookie cutter trout”—catchable-sized hatchery fish. Convinced that Michigan’s trout streams could turn out a far superior fish if left to their own devices, the anglers formed a new organization: Trout, Unlimited (the comma was dropped a few years later).
From the beginning, TU was guided by the principle that if we “take care of the fish, then the fishing will take care of itself.” And that principle was grounded in science. “One of our most important objectives is to develop programs and recommendations based on the very best information and thinking available,” said TU’s first president, Dr. Casey E. Westell Jr., “In all matters of trout management, we want to know that we are substantially correct, both morally and biologically.”
Effectively Managing Conflict in Your TU Chapter or Council
You joined TU to help save the fish or to learn to be a better angler and instead you’re dealing with conflict and unhappy volunteers. What now? Please recognize, first, that you are not alone -- all volunteer organizations have conflict; and, second, that good things can (and often do) arise from conflict that is effectively managed. The purpose of this document is to help volunteer leaders reduce the likelihood that conflict will occur within their TU chapter or council and, when it does occur, to manage it effectively. Don’t wait until conflict arrives. Use this document and handy checklist as the basis for a board discussion about managing conflict. Prepare your organization now so you can keep the peace and stay focused on saving fish and having fun.
What is conflict and what causes it?
Conflict is a difference of opinion, disagreement or clash of styles between people who are competing over perceived or actual incompatible goals or resources. Sometimes the desired resources or outcomes truly are mutually exclusive or incompatible. Many times they are only perceived as incompatible, when there may actually be a way to satisfy both parties. Differing perceptions are the root of many conflicts.
Conditions that are likely to create conflict are found in virtually every non-profit organization, including TU. Conditions for conflict may include limited funds; limited time; innovative ideas; change; varied professional backgrounds and approaches; different management styles; vague roles and responsibilities; passionate people; and shared responsibilities (e.g., leadership, decision-making, and implementation). Conflict need not be destructive. Handled effectively, differences can result in new and better ideas and projects, as well as a stronger sense of “team” for having weathered the storm together. When that happens, future conflicts are more likely to also be handled constructively. Conflict side-stepped or not handled in a thoughtful manner can have devastating results. At minimum, such situations chew up valuable volunteer (and, sometimes, staff) time, burn out existing volunteer leaders, and discourage new leaders from stepping forward. More serious and “public” conflicts can stop current members from becoming more active, stop new members from joining, and destroy long-term friendships. Especially virulent situations can lead to complete dysfunction or even “implosion” of the chapter or council itself, and damage the reputation of the organization in the eyes of fisheries agencies, other conservation or fishing group leaders or elected officials. It can take years for an organization to recover from such extensive damage.
Reduce the Likelihood of Conflict
Experience with TU chapters and councils across the nation indicates that many conflicts are the result of differing perceptions or expectations about how something should be (or is being) done. Many such conflicts could be avoided by improving communication in ways that will help get people “on the same page.” Following are some fairly simple, tried-and-true steps for reducing the likelihood for conflict.
Fundraising is one of the core functions of both chapters and councils. Volunteer leaders are finding it more important than ever to raise funds for work on their home waters. TU staff is trying to meet this demand for funding by providing increased fundraising support and funding alternatives for the entire organization’s important work. TU also has development professionals who, on a very limited basis, can assist chapters in identifying local grants.
Many chapters and councils raise money by hosting a fundraising banquet or special event. These events usually involve an auction and/or raffle of fishing tackle and other products. Holding a banquet or special event is one way your chapter can recruit new members, receive recognition for its work, and raise money for its operations. TU provides a list of resources to help chapters purchase auction/raffle items at discounted prices. Items from this list are available for order online in the Fundraising Program at any time of year.
It's important to remember raffles can raise important legal issues. Councils and chapters need to be aware of those issues to avoid legal problems. Always check with your state's secretary of state and attorney general to make sure the raffle that your chapter is planning complies with your state's laws and with any applicable local laws. Moreover, do not sell raffle tickets to someone outside of your state either through the mail or over the Internet. Doing so may violate federal law and the laws of some states. It is better to take the time to check your state's law before conducting a raffle than to run into problems later.
Embrace-A-Stream (EAS) is the flagship grant program for funding TU's grassroots conservation efforts. Since its inception in 1975, EAS has funded over 980 individual projects for a total of more than $4 million in direct cash grants. Local TU chapters and councils contributed an additional $13 million in cash and in-kind services to EAS funded projects for a total investment of more than $17 million. In 2011, EAS funded 25 projects in 15 states, with an average grant award of $5,000. Chapters and councils are asked to submit proposals for conservation projects that best dress the needs of native and wild trout following TU's protect, reconnect, restore and sustain conservation model.
Building Strong Chapters and Councils
The key to an effective and viable organization, in the long run, is that organization’s ability to regularly attract and activate new members, volunteers and leaders. However, among the top challenges expressed by current volunteers are:
- Not having enough “active members;” and
- Trouble attracting new volunteer leaders.
The following is a collection of ideas on how chapters can recruit more members, involve those members as volunteers and foster new leaders who will carry the organization into the future.
What Attracts People To TU:
People become a member of TU for a variety of reasons, but the most common can be broken down into the following three categories:
Conservation: They have conservation interests. The majority of TU members join because they are concerned about rivers and aquatic ecosystems that they have connected with through fishing. They have a vested interest in the health and viability of their “home waters”. Many members have expressed that they want to give something back to the resource that they enjoy and ensure that they pass on a healthy resource to their children.
Fishing: They like to fish or want to learn to fish and being a member of TU opens doors to opportunities and information. For many TU members, conservation concerns have largely stemmed from an initial interest in fishing as a sport and a love of the outdoors. By attracting people to the sport, you can then educate them on the need for conservation.
Friends: They want to make friends with shared interests or join to be with current friends. Often members have been encouraged by a friend to become involved. Friendship is a powerful motivator, and by keeping activities and events fun, you create an organization that casts a broader net when it comes to membership involvement.
Caveat: For healthy group diversity, you must plan ways to encourage involvement at EVERY level (members, volunteers, leaders). Be open to different points of view and ways of doing things. At your next TU meeting or activity, look around. How many participants are women? How many people are under the age of 30? How many members are non-white? If your chapter suffers from an obvious lack of diversity or you are simply looking for new ways to bring in more members, you may want to start purposely reaching out to these large segments of the population – if not, your group may be missing the boat.
The steelhead and salmon runs of northern California are legendary. However, these runs are now a fraction of their former numbers. Drought, development, dams, and water diversions have all contributed to reducing populations and angling opportunities, especially in coastal streams north of San Francisco -- a region often referred to as the Lost Coast. Yet good fish habitat remains here, and some rivers continue to offer premier angling opportunities for wild steelhead. A coalition of sportsmen groups, conservation organizations, business and property owners, fisheries scientists, tribes, and community members along the Lost Coast has come together around a landmark proposal: to protect and restore the last, best wild steelhead and salmon habitat on public lands in Trinity, Humboldt, Del Norte, and Mendocino counties. The clean, cold water that flows from these lands and the sporting assets they provide are a key part of California’s unique outdoor heritage. Join us in this movement today, to protect and improve the best of what’s left for Lost Coast steelhead and salmon.
Pescadero Creek is one of the last, best wild steelhead strongholds on California’s Central Coast and is likely the best chance for recovering coho south of San Francisco. TU and conservation partners have worked for years to improve streamflows and habitat conditions in this watershed. TU’s work has focused on collaborative projects with willing agricultural landowners in the lower watershed that will improve water security for farming and boost streamflows in the dry season when steelhead need it most. The BJ Burns/Bianchi Flowers farm project illustrated here is a fine example of how this kind of partnership can benefit both fish and people.
Trout Unlimited Teens are a group of teens working to learn more about conservation, volunteer for TU, and bring other teens into trout unlimited and conservation. Join us! Go to www.tu.org/teensjoin to get a membership or www.tu.org/kidsjoin if you are 12 or under.
Kirk Deeter discusses how not to spook fish when using your false cast.