Youth Activities within the Chapter
In the fall of 1989, twelve youngsters joined the SAREP (the New York State 4-H Sportfishing and Aquatic Resource Education Program) fishing club formed by Phil Genova, in Ithaca, New York. After three years of trial and error, experimentation, and hundreds of hours of work, a new revolutionary approach to youth sport fishing and natural resource education emerged. Three very important innovative changes were made in the youth environmental program delivery:
Immediate positive results were realized. The small, dedicated, diverse groups that formed were made up of young anglers of similar skill levels. Each group was mobile and could move easily from place to place in a single vehicle. Kids could fish anywhere without crowding an area or making themselves a nuisance to others. These budding fly fishers from divergent backgrounds became fast friends and helped each other grow, sharing their skills and pooling their talents in many school related projects in which fly-fishing played a major role. The Fly Fisher Apprentice Program was born.
The ranks of mentors and apprentices have grown ever since. By working with aquatic resource educators, the apprentice program expanded to address the full ecological picture. Mentors and young instructors began working extensively in the community, offering fly tying classes, participating in environmental education programs and exhibitions in conjunction with various 4-H activities. Over time venues expanded to include state fairs, national fly fishing shows, Federation of Fly Fisher (FFF) Conclaves and community-based fly-fishing and natural resource education events.
In its first four years of operation the Community Fly Fisher (CFF) brought fly-fishing education to over 7000 young people in nine states. Phil Genova’s energy and passion was passed on to Program Director, Shahab Farzanegan in January 1999. He continued leading the program, teaching 2000 people in 1999! In the summer of 1999 teen instructors were paid to teach over 200 people, in 8 different venues in the Finger Lakes area.
Adopted by Cornell Cooperative Extension as an independently funded program in 1996, the CFF set out on an ambitious project that would take almost five years to complete. In 2001, with the help of students from the Cornell University’s Johnson School of Business Management, members of the Finger Lakes business community and the fly-fishing industry, our young apprentices designed and opened The Community Fly Fisher (CFF) Retail Fly Shop and Environmental Education Center.
In 2004 the activities of CFF were merged with that of the Leon Chandler Chapter of Trout Unlimited. By merging our resources we were able to make the most of the volunteer efforts that supported one aspect of youth conservation education programming in Tompkins and Cortland Counties.
In 2005 the Leon Chandler Chapter of Trout Unlimited formally installed the Phil Genova Junior Chapter of Trout Unlimited within its organization. Since that time our efforts have included: youth fishing trips, stream sampling events, willow plantings, stream clean-ups, fly tying workshops and other activities target our community’s youth.
We always welcome new youth members (as well as their parents) to our Chapter and Junior Chapter events. Bookmark our calendar to keep up-to-date on the latest events in the Chapter.