Quarterly Letter from the Chairman of the Board – Bonefish & Tarpon Trust
[dropcap]D[/dropcap]ear anglers and conservationists,
Early one morning last spring, I had the good fortune of meeting a 12-year-old aspiring birder named Weston, who had convinced his grandfather and mother to get up before dawn and take him out bird watching in a wildlife preserve near Kennebunk, ME. We compared notes on the species we had seen, and I encouraged him to stick with his newfound hobby. Not long after, he sent me a heartfelt note of thanks along with a small painting of an unusual bird that he had spotted that morning.
My conversation with this young man gave me renewed hope for the next generation of conservationists. It also got me thinking about BTT and the important role our organization plays in educating young anglers and fostering their interest in and hopefully their love for the species and environments that have brought us so much joy in our own lives. Education is a cornerstone of our mission to conserve and restore bonefish, tarpon, and permit fisheries, and we have recently made exciting progress in several areas.
In the Bahamas, BTT has sharpened its focus on outreach and education based on the scientific research we’re conducting throughout the islands. Our flats ecosystem curriculum, which we developed in partnership with Bahamas National Trust (BNT), was rolled out this past year and has already reached 1,000 Bahamian students. In Florida, work is underway now to develop a similar flats ecosystem curriculum for students in the Keys and South Florida schools.
To further encourage the next generation of anglers and conservationists to be good stewards, BTT recently launched the “Youth Ambassadors Program,” which recognizes outstanding young leaders in flats fishing. We applaud our inaugural ambassadors, Stevie Kim-Rubell and Shelby Berger, who will share their passion for fishing and their commitment to conservation with their peers. Additional ambassadors will be announced in the months and years to come.
Whether a young person is looking to catch his or her first bonefish or, in Weston’s case, catch sight of an Upland Sandpiper, it’s heartening to see the next generation actively engaged in the natural world. Fostering such interest in the flats fishery is essential to the advancement of our mission, as young people, such as Weston, Stevie, and Shelby will one day, in the not so distant future, take up the mantle of conservation of our natural resources. By fostering their interest in the natural world through education, we give them the tools necessary to become tomorrow’s conservation leaders.
Thank you for your continuing interest and support of BTT. It is not only helping us to conserve our target species and habitats but also to inspire those who will be called on to steward them in the future.
Best wishes for the summer season.
Chairman of the Board
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust
135 San Lorenzo Ave
Coral Gables, FL 33136