Back to the Future: The TIA Alliance as a Student Recruitment Tool

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New River Symposium

Future natural resource management success depends on a workforce of well-trained, motivated, and relevant conservation professionals. Today’s high school students need to ‘rub elbows’ with inspirational natural resource managers doing field work culminating in meaningful experiences. Over the last six years, a James Madison High School club in Vienna, VA piloted a successful program. Urban students traveled to the Blue Ridge Mountains, conducted basic headwater drainage basin assessments and identified release sites for brook trout raised in Northern Virginia Classrooms. They were rewarded with fishing trips sponsored by a local Trout Unlimited (TU) chapter, potentially recruiting them as nontraditional anglers. In November 2018, TU joined the Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA) and the American Fisheries Society (AFS), creating the TIA Alliance, pledging to work together to expand the Madison club approach, potentially creating a nationwide program. One local area where this work may happen is the New River Valley, Virginia area, where the primary author is the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries fisheries biologist, an IWLA member and an active AFS member. Meaningful outdoor experiences will be enhanced by leaders providing quality mentorship to propel us ‘Back to the Future’ by creating new natural resource managers.