Tag Archives: Trout Unlimited

Testify. 

Someone needs to do it.

There are a few overlaps with my experience in local politics and state politics, and one of them is that our elected officials only know what is important to their constituents if we tell them.

So go testify, and tell them what matters to you!

Read on, and I’ll tell you what it’s like… a real woman’s story of speaking my mind in Wisconsin.

Today’s adventure started on Saturday, when I was with some of my TU friends, and our colleagues at the River Alliance let us know that the hearing for AB847 (Assembly Bill 847) had just been scheduled for today, at 11:00.

In a nutshell, this bill has to do with permitting high capacity wells and how we want to deal with the permitting process for these wells in the future- granting permits in perpetuity, regardless of the well being repaired, replaced, or the property being sold.

Those of you who know me politically will not be surprised that I advocate for science in groundwater, and support periodic review as our technology improves and we are able to get better data.

This bill is the opposite of what I believe in, so I planned to rearrange my schedule to attend. Out of our legislative committee for Wisconsin TU, two of us could attend the hearing.

This hearing wasn’t as rushed as some are- I am always angered when a bill only gets the minimum 24 hour notice before a public hearing. How can our legislators expect the public to come to a meeting with less than a day to rearrange our schedules? From what I understand, in that situation, they don’t. They don’t want us to come and voice our concerns.

Even though I had a couple days to get ready for this hearing, I didn’t make time to prep my testimony until today. It wasn’t so bad, since I testified at this bill’s Senate partner (SB239), so I know what the bill is about, and I was thinking about my statement in advance.

In preparation for this hearing, I woke up early this morning, typed out my testimony, and packed up to hit the road by 8:30.

Once I got to Madison around 10:30, I had a major “country mouse in the city” situation. I know of two public parking lots near the Capitol. I’m sure there are more, but I’m not familiar with them.

Both lots were full. I drove a loop between the two lots probably five or six times, and couldn’t decide what to do. I didn’t see any street parking beyond 25 minutes, and the last hearing I went to lasted over four hours. What do I do? Keep driving around? Turn around and go home? Cry? I started to sweat a little bit, and wondered if I could manage to take off my winter jacket while driving in downtown Madison traffic.

I kept driving. It was 10:42. I found a spot on the street, for maximum two hour parking. I pulled a U turn, snagged the spot, and jumped out of the car.

The -10 windchill hit me like a ton of bricks as it took my breath away. I grabbed my wallet and ran to the parking meter, praying that I had enough change to feed it. I put in every quarter, dime, and nickel I had, including a Canadian quarter. That one didn’t count, but I’d bought myself one hour and 58 minutes.

I grabbed my purse, camera bag, and coffee, and hustled up the hill to the Capitol. It was 10:46.

I made it, took a photo with the sun shining beautifully on the Capitol building…

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…and ran up to the second floor, North wing, where the hearing was being held. I found my TU friend, Mike, and we sat together. My friends from the River Alliance and Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters were there to testify and lend support as well. It was a beautiful room, despite the stifling feeling I get when in a room full of passionate people in suits who are better at playing this game than I am.

When you come to a hearing, you sign in. You can register to testify, if you want, or you can just sign in and indicate whether you’re in favor or in opposition to the bill in question. I filled out my paperwork and gave copies of my testimony to the clerk to distribute to the committee members. I was nervous, because I needed to be back in Stevens Point by 3, so I hoped that they’d call me to testify within the first two hours.

I mentioned that to the clerk, and she was very kind, saying she’d see what they could do.

When a hearing starts, usually the author of the bill is the first person to speak, and the committee can ask them questions about the bill and the process of developing it. They are followed by people who are lobbyists or represent organizations, then individuals. I didn’t register to speak on behalf of TU- since Mike was representing us- so I was expecting a long wait, as I was sure to be grouped with “concerned individuals.”

It kind of was a long wait- the committee had their executive session first, where they voted on other bills. The hearing for my bill itself didn’t commence until around 12:15, and I started to get nervous. After the legislators were done asking each other questions, the lobbyist for manufacturing was called up. I was just checking my watch when the clerk caught my eye and mouthed, “You’re up next!”

I looked around, pointed at myself, made the question mark face, and mouthed, “Me?”

She, and the chair of the committee, both smiled at me. What luck!

While I’d been disheartened by the partisan politics of other water bills during the executive session, I was filled with hope that these legislators actually did want to hear from an average, authentic person.

Of course, then I realized that I was going after (and, as it turns out, between) a professional. A lobbyist.

So, I did what I do best… I took a photo to document the moment. The chair called my name, “Next to testify is Heidi Ob..er…mumble.”

I sat down in the leather chair, and made my token name joke. “It’s Oberstadt. I married a German man. Taking that new last name is a sign of the depth of my love.” The committee gave a little chuckle.

Then, I took a deep breath, and started my planned testimony.

Good afternoon, Committee on Environment and Forestry: Thank you for staying for this hearing and giving me this opportunity to speak with you.

I’m Heidi Oberstadt, a small business owner in Stevens Point, right in the Central Sands.

I’d never driven down to testify until I saw this bill’s partner, SB239, in the Senate… so I’m new at this and nervous, but this bill’s possible impacts are important to me. I hope I’m in good company here with people who care about our environment and our water.

I don’t fit the stereotype of a serious angler, but I am. It’s amazing how fishing has taken over my social life, and I now spend a lot of time on our waterways. In fact, the first time I told my friends that I wanted to spend my weekend standing in a stream in rubber pants, they thought I was crazy! ::smile here::

With all the time that I spend playing outside, I’ve seen some pretty clear signs that we have an existing groundwater problem manifesting itself in visible surface water problems. If you haven’t seen them yet, you will- photos of our troubled Central Sands water- with visible stream beds and docks that seemingly lead to nowhere.

This isn’t a future problem, it’s a current problem.

You are being pulled in a million directions on recent legislation, so as someone who has literally watched this growing problem, I can offer a unique and authentic perspective.

To be completely honest, this bill worries me. Where is the science? Without using science to determine the language and content of this bill, you might as well ask me to write it. ::smile here::

With this visible problem, the only legislative option that I can support is a science-based solution that not only helps our citizens who are currently affected, but ensures that science will be used in the future to protect our groundwater for generations of Wisconsinites.

I don’t have children yet, but I want to be able to show my future children the beauty of my home water someday. Please help me do that, and oppose this bill.

Thank you for listening!

When I finished, as per usual, the chair asks the committee if they have any questions. Only one member raised their hand, and my heart skipped a beat. What could he possibly ask me about?

“You did a great job.”

Big smiles from me. I stood up, and was immediately replaced with a lobbyist for big dairy farms.

I wish I could have stayed for the rest of the hearing, but I had to leave. I still have work to do! In fact, I’ll be working late tonight to make up for the hours that I missed while driving and testifying.

I know that testifying isn’t convenient for most people, and it isn’t easy- my voice was shaking the entire time I was speaking!

The reality of the situation is that I don’t know if my voice will make a difference, but I hope it does. If we waited until it was easy for us to speak our mind, we will have missed our chance.

Be brave, friends. If something matters to you, fight to protect it! I’m here to help, if you need a pep talk.

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Colorado: Days Three and Four

I kicked off day three in Colorado with a little paddleboarding at the reservoir. It was a beautiful morning to spend on the water! Just as I was about to lock the car and head in, one of my October brides called me, reminding me that I’m never actually on vacation, but I can pretend to be. I scheduled a meeting with her for when I got home and tried to put it out of my mind.

This view helped.

I took my brookie for a swim…

This SUP was very different than the wooden beauty that I have at home, but it was a great time. I changed out of my suit into a sundress in the car (mental note: spray Febreeze again to keep that hot car from smelling like the river…), then headed downtown to grab coffee and do a little work.

I love this little shop, The Cup, so I kept coming back. It’s a really popular place, so the lines are usually pretty long. I had almost made it to the front of the line, and the man in front of me was asking the barista all sorts of questions about the prices of coffee, and he dropped a handful of change on the counter and started counting it. He suggested that he’d go to Starbucks since it was cheaper over there. It was obvious to me that he was having a hard time paying for his coffee, so I said, “It’s okay, I’ll give you a buck or two to cover your coffee.” Karma points earned. It was sure a surprise for me when he turned to the barista and said, “In that case, instead of drip coffee, I’d like the Nitro.” It must have been some kind of coffee with nitrogen… so I ended up buying my stranger a $5 cup of coffee. Sure, I’d blown my coffee budget, but at least that guy got a really nice cup of coffee. I stuck with drip, myself.

I typed and edited and read and sorted, then packed up to head to the fly shop to meet Kyle. I’d been virtually introduced to Kyle through my other TU friend from Oregon, also named Kyle. It turns out that TU people are awesome, though that’s really no surprise to me. We met in real life at the shop, grabbed a couple flies, then headed out to Boulder Creek.

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It was a beautiful day to be out on the water.

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(photo credit: random awesome fly angler who walked by)

Kyle caught a couple fish, and I didn’t catch a darn thing. I did have a strike, though… but couldn’t follow through. I was amazed at some of the shallow moving water that was holding fish. I couldn’t believe they were in there! I tried several new casting techniques that I’ve never done before. It was a great learning experience. I just love fishing in other areas and learning more about fish behavior.

We stripped off our wet waders and boots and headed back into town for tacos and beer at Sanitas, and we talked about TU on the drive. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I really love that organization and everything they do for cold water.

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Delicious food, great beer, and fabulous company. Thank you for all your help, Kyle! I really appreciate you taking a chance to get out fishing with a stranger.

I came home to see this smiling face, and I fell sound asleep, dreaming dreams of pretty mountain trout. ❤

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And just like that, I woke up. Solo fishing day.

Don’t get scared now.

After being skunked fishing with Kyle the day before (who certainly knows what he’s doing), I headed out to the stream with low confidence. I knew I needed an attitude adjustment, because embracing a bad mood is no help to anyone, especially myself.

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Once I picked my spot to fish, I grabbed my yoga mat, did a few poses with deep breathing, and strung up my rod.
I walked down to the river, and tried this new spot. No luck.

Another new spot. No luck.

Changed flies. No luck.

Changed flies and went to a new spot, scaring a snake along the way. No luck.

Tried a dropper. Lost both flies in a tree lined with other anglers’ flies.

Tried not to be frustrated, but didn’t know what fly to use. Tried a hopper. No luck.

Caddis? Before I had a chance to cast, I saw a hummingbird flying near me, making the cutest little sound. Took a brave little walk through fast water, holding on to a dead tree for security.
Cast once. Twice. Three times, then a flash and strike. Set the hook!
I pulled in the prettiest brown trout, and burst into tears.. so yeah, I snapped. Lost my shit. It must have been the stress and the pressure… no one wants to fly out to a new state in a new region and come home empty handed. Relief washed over me when I felt the tug at the end of my line. Thank. Goodness. I fooled one.

I caught several more in the next fifteen minutes, including the biggest trout I’ve ever caught while wading. I packed it up and headed back early, leaving on a high note.
This game is certainly about the chase, about feeling independently adequate, trusting yourself and trusting the fish, and being brave on solo adventures. Sometimes it’s harder than I thought it would be, but it’s always worth it.

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I grabbed a quick lunch from a food truck downtown, then headed up to Chautauqua to run my little heart out.

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Trail running: where going down is just as hard as going up. Don’t-fall-don’t-fall-don’t-fall.

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It was an awesome run, and very unlike my flat Central Sands home. There is a beautiful grassy park at Chautauqua where I stretched out and did a little yoga, then headed back to Aaron’s to shower and get ready for “girls’ night out.”

The drive to Denver was pretty short and there wasn’t much traffic, so I got there before Meredith was finished with her kickball game. I stopped in at Starbucks to grab coffee and do a little work until she was ready to hang out. The view from the coffee shop was amazing!

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When I got the “I’m ready!” text, I headed to the park to finally see my friend! I met Meredith when we were in first grade, and the rest is history. I love that the park she was playing in had views of the mountains on one side, and the Denver skyline on the other. So awesome.

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We headed to Meredith’s condo for dinner, catching up, and we got ready to go out. She has a gorgeous view of the skyline from the patio of her Capitol Hill condo.

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I don’t know the names of all the places we went, but we danced, played beer pong, and laughed a lot. Thank you for the fun night, Mere!!!

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All this vacation was wearing me out, and I was so happy to snuggle in on Meredith’s couch for a night of sleep before my upcoming day at Rocky Mountain National Park. That adventure is up next.

Here, fishy fishy…

Miles this year: 347.65

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Wisconsin Trout Unlimited Youth Fishing Camp 2015

One more year of our WITU Youth Camp under our belts, and one more graduating class of educated angler citizens.

This year’s group was thoughtful and funny, sassy and naughty, insightful and competitive. Basically, they were typical teenagers (and pre-teens). The camp is held at the beautiful Pine Lake Bible Camp, and it is a wonderful facility!

We started with knot tying…

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…and fly casting.

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I was the counselor for two girls, and here they are! Natalie and Katie. Two totally different personalities and two different experience levels, but the three of us meshed flawlessly and we all had a great time. 🙂

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We had many fabulous volunteers, who drove out to the middle of nowhere (Wild Rose) and donated their time and talents. I love my TU friends!

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We went on a field trip to visit our local DNR fisheries guys and they demonstrated how they do fish surveys on our streams.

When it was dark, we came inside and the kids learned about fly tying. Some of our older kids from last year came back and helped us out as junior counselors. They were fantastic! Even though I think this stuff is awesome, it means more to the campers to hear it from other kids.

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Here are my girls with the grownups that they brought- one had her grampie, and one had her dad.

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We had a lesson from past WITU council chair, Henry, on what TU does and why we do it.

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Those lucky kids even had a chance to make their own spinners! Too cool.

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The camp is on a lake, so we were able to swim and fish out there in between classes. It was a hot week- in the 90s every day. We made extra break times for a dip in the lake, and I made a couple popsicle runs.

Despite the heat, I found a little break to go for a run on the trails through the camp. It was beautiful!!

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Early mornings were spent soaking up knowledge from these TU members (and total fly fishing experts!)…

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…and drinking tea on the deck. Those kids stayed up way past “lights out,” probably studying their fishing books, I’m sure, so they slept in until the very last moment each morning. It was nice to have a few minutes of peace!image5 (2)

Our final day included some stream fishing, and my girls did a fantastic job!

Bob, who is one of the organizers of the camp, came out to our stream section and captured this image of Natalie and I. She did a great job! I was so proud.

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Girls on the stream: Linda, from Wisconsin River Valley TU, came out to help guide!

We had a wonderful camp this year. Congratulations, campers! You learned a lot of new skills, and you taught us all a lot, too. Thank you for the great week!

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I headed out immediately after the kids were picked up, because I only had one day at home before I had to leave on my Colorado adventure. One day is not nearly enough time to do all my laundry, snuggle my pup and my mustachioed husband, and charge my camera batteries.

That trip (and the insanity of my day at home) is up next! As always, thank you for reading!

Miles this year: 335.4

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STREAM Girls 2015 + Fishing With Mike

STREAM Girls: one of the coolest programs that TU does. Of course, I’m totally biased, since it was an idea that I came up with after having a good long talk with my momma about how to get more girls and women involved in conservation and fly fishing.

The second annual STREAM Girls event was held on June 19th and 20th, in Wisconsin’s Jordan Park, along the Plover River. It is a collaborative event between Trout Unlimited and the Girl Scouts of America, and we were very excited to get our girls involved and learning about water once again!

STREAM is an acronym that is based on the STEM education emphasis: S for science, T for technology, R for recreation, E for engineering, A for arts, and M for math.

The STREAM Girls curriculum covers many topics: everything from the science behind water flow, streamside vegetation, fish habitat and water quality to fly tying and casting.

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Entomology is always a BIG HIT!

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We made a direct connection from the bugs in the stream to the flies that we tie, and ushered the girls to stations to tie some flies, with a fabulous 1:1 ratio of volunteers to girls. They followed a wooly bugger recipe, then were given a little creative license to make their own!

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We wrapped up the first day with fly casting basics and casting games, then practicing casting into water. It really does have a totally different feel than learning on grass, so we tried to create as authentic a learning environment as we could.

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TU national staff and volunteers designed and provided specialized handbooks to the scouts, outlining their activities for the program. The program is about 75% science-based and 25% angling, and it includes an at-home checklist to share with their families, evaluating their familial impact on their watershed.

We had Junior Girl Scouts for the full day of learning on Friday, and Brownies joined us on Saturday morning. The older girls took the younger girls on a streamwalk, stopping at volunteer-manned stations, sharing what they’ve learned about the stream, and answering questions along the way. Each stop earned them a charm or bead for a bracelet that they assembled at the end of the stream walk.

Channel 7 news even came out to cover the event!

It was raining on us for the majority of Saturday, but we wrapped those girls in ponchos and we braved the rain for a little shore fishing on Jordan Pond.

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We had 18 graduates of the STREAM Girls program, each earning a patch for the back of their vest or sash, a certificate of completion, and a water bottle with the STREAM Girls logo.

As the girls packed up their gear, excitedly showing their parents their new patch, I found peace in my heart knowing we’d helped to create a new generation of educated observers and nature lovers.

TU volunteers came from all corners of Wisconsin to share their passion and knowledge about water, and I’m incredibly thankful for the kindness and generosity of everyone who contributed.

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One of those dedicated volunteers was my friend, Mike Kuhr. We went out fishing on my home water (the Tomorrow River) Friday evening, and had a lot of fun!

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Fishing in the dark is every bit as difficult as you would think it would be, but catching fish is even more rewarding, if that’s possible. It was a great time, and I caught my biggest nighttime fish yet! 🙂

After that whirlwind of a weekend, I was so thankful to get home to my pup and Mr. Mustache. I need a vacation!

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Thanks for reading! 🙂

Miles this year: 296.1

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Madison with Amy + Trout Tattoo + Amy’s Bachelorette

Before I knew it, my best friend’s wedding was upon us. I can’t believe how time has flown by! We spent the weeks leading up to the wedding helping with planning, decorating, and general moral support, including a short trip to Madison to visit Becky. Becky is Amy’s sister-in-law, and since she couldn’t make it to the bachelorette, we made a special little trip to catch up. 🙂

Dinner at Eno Vino, wine and movies at Becky and Dan’s apartment, and DIY pedicures. It was a lot of fun! Thanks for hosting us, Becky!

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We headed home early so Amy could work and I could get to my tattoo appointment- time for my ninth marathon tally, with a little abstract brookie addition.

The stencil…

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In progress…

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And finished!

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Foot tattoos really hurt. I always forget exactly how much they hurt until I’m siting in the chair- luckily, they’re small! Thanks to Jim at Blackwater, for hooking me up, and for starting with the brookie so I woudldn’t change my mind during the tally. 🙂

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I made it back to my office for a full afternoon of work before heading out for my TU board meeting. We met at our new location, inside the SentryWorld building. We had special guest, Kyle Herrman, an aquatic ecologist from UWSP, who gave us a presentation on the Lost Creek Stream restoration project.

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I was even lucky enough to sit next to the infamous Mike Dombeck!

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A great night of learning and sharing our excitement for conservation led to a sound night of sleep. 🙂 The next day, I worked to catch up on business before a busy weekend, and Brian and I headed out to the St. Joe’s church picnic. Brian was playing with the big band, and I was dancing with my SP ballroom friends!

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I even ran into a old friend from high school- Chris! 🙂 It was so great to catch up.

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I finished off the weekend in the Twin Cities with Amy and the bridesmaids for her bachelorette party. We went shopping at the Mall of America and Ikea, then headed to our downtown hotel to recoup before dinner at the Melting Pot.

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After dinner, we walked downtown for drinks and dancing. We had a great time! It was loud in the club, so we couldn’t hear the pouring rain that had started outside- so once we got outside, we decided to go for it, and we ran the nine blocks to our hotel… finishing the evening with a natural shower!

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It was pretty neat to see the lightning reflecting off the skyscrapers downtown. Thanks for the fabulous weekend, ladies! It was wonderful to get to know you all better. 🙂

When I got home, Brian had been working on our new deck, and his father came over to help. Greg brought me a huge bouquet of peonies from their house. It was such a sweet welcome home!

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As always, thanks for reading, friends!

Miles this year: 290.1

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Fly Fishing School 2015 + CWERB Presentation

Hey, guys! I’m excited to share a few photos from our Fly Fishing School this year. My TU chapter, Frank Hornberg, hosts an annual fly fishing school, and we share our love for the sport and conservation.

We teach knot tying…

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…and fly casting…

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…we have hands-on reading the stream sessions…

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…and last, but not least, we serve really delicious food.

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I wasn’t planning on wet wading during lunch, but when the fish are rising, well…

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My chapter president and I took out four of our students after the school was over. We swung by a pub for dinner, then headed out on our beloved Tomorrow River. I was so proud of the women that came out with me- they did a great job, and we had lots of laughs while doing it. 🙂

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Thanks, everyone! I hope you end up loving our streams as much as we do.

Shortly after the school, I ended up spending my meeting in a seemingly polar opposite way- at a meeting in a dark country club room, with a PowerPoint presentation. It was like the collision of my two worlds- I attended a CWERB (Central Wisconsin Economic Resource Bureau) presentation about entrepreneurship in America.

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I learned a lot of material- it was incredibly interesting! I’m thankful that I secured an invite. I wasn’t sure if I would know anyone there, but I ended up sitting next to our mayor, and he introduced me to several folks that I should know in the community. Those connections will come in handy with my newest project… more information to come!

I’ll leave you with a photo from my lilac bush after a little dew.

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Thanks for reading, friends!

Up next? A memorial day up north and my launch into local politics.

Miles this year: 286.1

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I can’t believe I left my keys on the hood.

Yes, you read that right. Apparently, I was unloading the car when I got home, and I put my keys on the hood of the car. Later that evening, Brian and I hopped in my car to drive to hang out with some of our friends, and he used his car keys. We were several miles from home when he looked down on the hood and noticed my keys were sitting there.

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They’re not magnetized or anything- I don’t know how they stayed! I urged Brian to pull over, but he said, “If they haven’t come off yet, they’ll be okay until we get there.” We drove the last few miles with baited breath, but they didn’t budge. I’m so lucky!

I paid forward my good karma by donating a photo shoot for the absolutely precious little Bennett.

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His momma and daddy tried for many years to have this little peanut, and we all eagerly awaited his arrival!

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Congratulations, Kostuhoski family! ❤

I spent several days doing headshots for a couple different companies, including my physical therapist’s office, Point Forward. Look at these friendly PTs! 🙂

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I also had the opportunity to do headshots for the Festival foods company.

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I did about 130 of them, and they all look pretty much like this. 🙂

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After my first day shooting for Festival at their Green Bay support office, I swung by my favorite fly shop, Tight Lines. They were prepping their gear for the busy guide season.

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I dropped off a couple beers (share the love with your fly shop, people!), had a few laughs, then headed home to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Brian. Margaritas, fajitas, and eating on the porch. I love summer in Wisconsin.

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I had a bunch of other shoots, but made time for a little community race that raises money for CAP services. Our friend, Jenny, also ran the race! A little warm weather 5K was perfect for a weeknight.

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I finished off the week with my last TU chapter board meeting at Shooters in Plover. We’ve switched our meeting location to the new community room in SentryWorld. It’s an incredible facility.

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Our weekend included a shoot with all of the individual students at Heywood Music Studios. Here’s the group shot from their spring piano recital!

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Always a busy girl, and always running around. More adventures to come.

As always, thanks for reading!

Miles this year: 282.1

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