Calendar page for our local Trout Unlimited Chapter (GA Foothills, Chapter 629). Looking down the page, which lists scheduled events for the entire calendar year, I was struck by the fact that this group is truly about service. The calendar is crowded with doing and giving: regular volunteer time at the nearest fish hatchery, sponsorship and volunteer time for various youth events, stream cleanups, habitat enhancement workdays, Healing Waters events, teaching at local schools... The list goes on an on.
Actually, except for monthly meetings and a couple of fundraising banquets (which are designed to raise support for all those service projects on the calendar), everything on the list is some sort of a service opportunity for chapter members and friends they are able to gather. And in truth, not everything gets listed. When the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division needs extra hands stocking trout or some other project, they might just pass along word to someone in the chapter and a mention at a meeting or note on the website will bring out volunteers.
Too many organizations and chapters of organizations, even organizations founded with service as the main objective, seem more about talking than doing (and about gaining recognition for whatever projects they volunteer for or sponsor). GA Foothills TU seems the opposite to me.
Don't get me wrong. This crew has a common passion for streams and trout and fishing for trout, and the social aspect is of chapter involvement is super valuable. They also get together pretty frequently to fish, as they should, and like any group of anglers, they enjoy trading fish stories. When I attended a meeting not long ago, though, I noticed that the fish stories fairly quickly took backseat to discussion about upcoming events that needed volunteers and opportunities to back worthwhile causes.
Like many organizations, Trout Unlimited accomplishes a tremendous amount of good with big projects on a national level. Even more important, though, in my opinion, is the hands-on work that only can be accomplished locally by an active chapter with good priorities, and that definitely seems to describe GA Foothills.