The people of Northwest Georgia have grown to know Trout Unlimited and are familiar with the Chili Cook Off, Kids Fishing Day and the stream work that TU does to better trout habitat.
The Chili Cook Off has become one of the most well known cooking events in Northwest Georgia and has helped TU raise thousands of dollars for the Coosa Valley TU Chapter.
The question is, where does the money go?
The Coosa Valley Chapter of TU, keeps almost all money raised in the state of Georgia with the greatest percentage going into education of students from elementary schools through graduate school.
CVCTU has made donations to science classes and other student groups through the years and has helped to fund outdoor education centers such as Arrowhead, the Coosa River Nature Center and now has committed to the E.C.O. River Education Center, which now is our primary meeting place.
Not only have those entities been recipients of TU monies, on the college and graduate level, there are fisheries study endowment programs that are actively funded by the Coosa Chapter as well as other TU chapters across the state.
Why is education so important to Trout Unlimited? The answer is simple. If someone knows that harming the environment along the stream will not only impact the fish, plants and microorganisms that live there but also affect the streams and rivers downstream and the people and animals that need the water to survive, maybe they would not do it.
In the past fifty years or so a major part of Trout Unlimited has been dedicated to correcting problems associated with pollution, poor forestry management and farm practices that were the result of abuse of natural resources by those that did not know better.
Had these people been better educated, maybe our streams and rivers would have never needed the work that TU has done in the past fifty years. Therefore, TU continues to educate.
The Coosa Valley Chapter of TU along with the Oconee River Chapter joined together several years ago with the purpose of creating an endowment that could fund scholarships at the University of Georgia.
The Warnell School of Forestry has a fisheries program dedicated to cold water fish.
There is now a Trout Unlimited Coldwater Fisheries Scholarship that is for undergraduate and graduate students. This scholarship has helped students for almost 10 years.
A few years ago a student approached Trout Unlimited and asked for assistance in buying items needed for a research project for his graduate degree.
The Georgia TU Council and other chapters wished to help, but regulations governing 501(c)(3) charities do not allow for direct contributions to individuals.
Now, a second endowment has been created to help students get the funds necessary to buy research equipment or items needed to complete their studies.
The Trout Unlimited Research Endowment has been started but is not yet fully funded and is a few thousand away from that point.
Hopefully the endowment will be funded soon and more students can ask for support in buying items needed.
Contributions to the endowments are not restricted to TU chapters or members.
In fact, every year individuals have contributed to help the endowment grow. As the endowment base grows, more scholarships can be funded, and TU greatly appreciates help from anyone.
Presenting at this month’s Trout Unlimited meeting will be Mike Clutter and Jay Shelton from the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.
Clutter will give a brief overview of the Warnell School, and Shelton, a Warnell fisheries biologist, will discuss landscape-level natural resources management and its impact on stream and ecosystem quality.
The meeting will be held at the E.C.O. River Education Center at Ridge Ferry Park at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.
This will be an opportunity to learn more about the endowments and the Warnell School.
The meeting is open to the public, and a meal will be provided at a nominal cost.