Nature Heals

Places where we renew

Scot Simmons shares his remarkable story of healing that inspires him to pay it forward through mentoring and conservation. So many people have turned to the outdoors and specifically fishing in recent years for personal renewal. Thank you for helping to multiply these stories everywhere that TU is working on the ground and in our communities. 

A shared passion

Through Trout Unlimited, a grassroots network of volunteers inspires conservation, restoration, and stewardship of our shared waters.

In the last fiscal year, our volunteers donated 562,515 hours, valued at over $18 million using the Independent Sector’s estimated value of volunteer time. Together we engaged more than 210,000 members and supporters in hands-on conservation projects, community science, environmental education and social activities.

From Georgia to Washington and all the regions in between, TU volunteers raise over $13 million in donations annually to carry out our mission locally. This looks and feels like different things in different communities, as each local TU directs resources and time to the unique needs of their coldwater river, stream and community. However, each is bound by our common mission, our shared priority waters and commitment to engaging whole communities, particularly the next generation, in service to our mission. For example, last year TU volunteers reached more than 95,000 youth with fly fishing education or conservation and science programming.

Working as One TU, national staff, state leadership, and chapter leaders move together to care for and recover our watersheds for generations to come.

Blue Ridge TU Builds Connection in the Water

The 072 – Blue Ridge chapter likes to get their hands wet and their boots dirty. Thanks in part to a robust TU Service Partnership Program, the chapter closed out the year with nearly 15,000 volunteer hours. The Blue Ridge chapter partners with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing to promote the physical and emotional rehabilitation of wounded and disabled active military personnel and veterans through fly fishing. Programs include things like fly fishing trips and fly-tying workshops and increasingly work to connect participants back to the TU mission, to the TU community and to continued service through the chapter’s programs. Fellowship with other anglers and mentors cement the therapeutic benefits of communing with the waters of North Carolina.

“A day on the river is a good day – even if it is raining and the fish aren’t biting,” said one participant. “It doesn’t matter because you have the perfect peace to get through the day and take away the stress.”

A deep commitment to service runs through TU members from coast to coast. “The common denominator of programs that use fly fishing as a form of therapy is you,” said TU President Chris Wood. “TU is the volunteer labor force for programs like Reel Recovery, Casting for Recovery, Rivers of Recovery, Reeling in Serenity, the Mayfly Project, and Project Healing Waters. You counter the desperation of a cancer diagnosis, or of a veteran with PTSD, or a lonely child, with love and compassion. When others look across the landscape and see loss and degradation, you all see the opportunity to recover hope through restoration.”

Community Meets Collaboration in the Nooksack Basin  

In 2020, the 938 – North Sound chapter dedicated its energies to a U.S. Forest Service initiative: the comprehensive inventory and mapping of trout and salmon populations in the Nooksack Basin by water sample collection. What happened next was a cascade of conservation, community involvement and agency collaboration.

The chapter bought specialized collection equipment, trained volunteers, and sent these community scientists into the field, collecting data across the basin. At first, North Sound chapter leaders drove the effort – but as visibility grew, so did momentum: local anglers, students, and basin residents jumped on board to assist. Together, the team has sampled hundreds of sites. Their work generated more insights into populations and habitats, an expanding research area, and more agencies joining the effort.

Today, the North Sound chapter carries on a legacy of service exemplified by  Bill McMillan. Bill volunteered with TU for decades, collecting steelhead spawning data on the Skagit River. Bill passed the torch to the North Sound chapter to carry on a tradition of conservation.


Youth Education Thrives in Ohio 

Trout and Salmon in the Classroom (TIC/SIC) are environmental education programs that help K-12 students develop an enduring love for the environment. Approximately 100,000 students annually raise trout from eggs to fingerlings in a coldwater aquarium during the school year and in the process learn about the importance of water quality, aquatic biology, watershed management and stewardship. In some cases, TIC/SIC offers students their first chance to care for another living thing or take a field trip to the source of their drinking water – and that makes an impact that can last a lifetime.

In Ohio, the 477 – Mad River chapter seizes TIC opportunities as they channel students into active participants outside the classroom, engaging the most youth participants outside of a school setting of any chapter. Mad River’s TU Teens, a program now entering its twelfth year, is bolstered by smart partnerships that keep the program strong: Orvis sponsors equipment for TU Teens fishing trips, with generous donors covering remaining gaps.

Twin Cities TU Inspires a Culture of Conservation   

“There is no better mental health therapy for me than being out on the water.” That’s from Scot Simmons, but it’s a common sentiment from TU members. Water is a balm for the soul, resulting in outcomes that exist outside of spreadsheets and measurability. Scot serves on the 023 – Twin Cities TU (TCTU) board, where he supports the Fostering the Outdoors program. Youth programming thrives at TCTU with a focus on developing the next generation of conservationists through Trout in the Classroom, an outdoor summer camp (The Ultimate Nature Experience), and a fly-fishing skills program for families.

On the ground, TCTU boasts 75+ miles of stream restored across the state. In the field, a strong Streamkeepers group measures water temperatures and chemistry, while keeping a sharp eye on areas for future projects. From education to advocacy, and from mental health to spiritual connection, TCTU is inspiring a culture of conservation in anglers of all ages.

Deep Roots: Chapter #001 Keeps Boots in the Water   

TU’s origins on the banks of the Au Sable River are well known, but the story of the 001 – Mason-Griffith Founders (MGFTU) chapter didn’t simply crystallize in that moment. Their work lives on, rooted in rich history and looking ahead to the work yet to be done. “MGFTU decided a number of years ago that the focus of our chapter would be ‘boots in the water’ restoration and preservation work,” said chapter president Karen Harrison. “We are able to make an impact because of our passion for the river, and we are very lucky to have dedicated volunteers.”

From surveying brown trout redds in the South Branch of the Au Sable to placing and protecting 50+ large cedars in the Upper Manistee River’s Deward Tract, the chapter has remained steady in their commitment to protection and restoration. Chapter leaders and volunteers keep their boots wet constructing fish structures, placing temperature monitors and reestablishing natural stream processes.

All Hands in to Reconnect Wild Brown Trout Habitat in Georgia  

In the mountains of North Georgia, releases from Buford Dam cause erosion and sedimentation of wild brown trout habitat in the Chattahoochee River. A group of TU volunteers turned a $7,500 TU Embrace A Stream grant into a quarter-million-dollar restoration project energizing the local conservation community and engaging the next generation of conservationists by partnering with the University of Georgia 5 Rivers Club – led by college students.  

Project leaders worked with an interdisciplinary team to create an ecological restoration plan covering 500 linear feet on both sides of the creek. Three obsolete culverts were also removed to increase aquatic connectivity, and volunteers spent several days removing invasive plant species from the banks and replacing the invasives with native flora. Leaders of the 034 – Pisgah and 348 – Rocky River chapters in North Carolina, who had worked on major projects recently, helped provide technical guidance and suggestions, representing a cross-state TU collaboration.  

Scroll to Top