By Gary Wittrock
TCTU’s Youth Education emphasis is focused on developing the next generation of
Conservationists. One TCTU supported program is the National Trout Unlimited Teen
Leadership Conference which was held from June 28 th to July 2 nd . This year TCTU awarded a
scholarship for this conference to Mathias Westermeyer, a Junior at St. Michael-Albertville High
School. Below is Mathias’s recap of his experience.
Hello Trout Unlimited Minnesota, my name is Mathias Westermeyer and I am from St. Michael,
MN. This summer I was given the wonderful opportunity to go to Anaconda Montana for four
days in July to attend the TU Teen Summit 2023! I was gifted a scholarship from the Twin Cities
Chapter of TU and was the first ever Minnesotan teen to attend the summit.
My family and I took a 14-hour road trip to the beautiful state of Montana. I was surrounded by
mountains with white caps, Georgetown Lake and so much wildlife - a moose greeted me as I
checked in to my cabin. I met up with twenty-five other teens who love conservation and of
course fly fishing! Ten minutes after dropping my bags the Teen summit leaders had us put on
our gear and start fishing! The next few days were busy, we built dams for the local trout, this
would slow down the water flow and create pools, along with helping with temperature
regulation. We traveled into the city of Butte, which was a huge mining town with a lot of
history. We learned about the large acidic lake called Berkley’s Pitt. The water there has caused
a lot of problems for the local environment - the streams there were full of metals, so the water
is acidic, causing the local habitat to be killed off. Now the lake has been regulated but the
damage is permanent. This really showed me how certain choices impact the environment
On the last day we fished in a beautiful crystal-clear river. I caught many Cutthroat and Rainbow
trout over the day, I also learned how to become a better fly fisherman. One of the TU teen
leaders went with me to help me catch fish, and during that one-on-one time I learned many
useful tricks and tips. That night all the teens gathered to create our mission statement: To get
more people interested in flyfishing, promote a diverse community of passionate youth who
foster a sense of stewardship toward America’s fisheries and get young people more involved in
conserving rivers and lakes! Over the trip, I met a lot of great peers from all over the country.
This school year we will all collaborate in different ways to help send out our message and
promote our mission statement! Thank You Trout Unlimited for allowing me to participate in
this awesome trip!
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