When I was young, very young I had a unique soap set for bath time. The bars were in the shapes of different endangered species around the world. It was produced by the World Wildlife Federation to help get kids interested in animals, the environment, etc...
This is my first memory of conservation.
I was also the first cool kid on the block to rock a reusable bag with the letters WWF on it (little did everyone know they'd all be doing it in 10 or so years, too). I was made fun of for being a wrestling fan because of the bag. I got in trouble in elementary school for spending my time drawing the endangered humpback whale and not paying attention. My favorite science fair project was "The best way to clean up an oil spill." I think it's safe to say I was bitten by the conservation bug long ago, even if I didn't know it.
Fast forward to college. I was stuck in a city, surrounded by kids interested in becoming the next great contemporary artist or fashion photographer and dreamed of NYC or LA. I spent my time running back home to the mountains and taking pictures of outdoor gear, dreaming of a dirtbag life working for National Geographic.
Today, I don't work for National Geographic, but that's because my dirtbag dreams have shifted. Fly fishing has afforded me an outlet for conservation and a life lived outside. I get to advocate for our Appalachian brook trout, speaking out for Public Lands, and spend a great many of my days in solitude, with a garbage bag, in Pisgah National Forest, my heart is full.
Last week Trout Unlimited's Chris Wood wrote a piece on how he got into conservation and urged others to do the same. If you have the time, please check out his article and tell your story.