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.
Kirk Deeter talks about keeping your thumb in your peripheral vision to improve casting.
Kirk Deeter talks about what happens when you drop your rod tip too soon.
Kirk Deeter talks about practicing on ponds to improve your fly fishing skills.
Trout Unlimited President/CEO Chris Wood talks about public lands. See more of these Public Lands videos under Conservation