Fish for Change runs international fly fishing programs for high school and college students in Honduras, Bahamas, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Colorado. Their mission is to use fly-fishing as a platform to make the world a better place by uniting a diverse group of students in wild fisheries where they engage in a variety of initiatives. They recently came out with their first print publication the Fish for Change Journal. We caught up with Heather Harkavy (Director of Operations of Fish For Change) and Genevieve Chiu-Schaepe (Editor of the Journal) from F4C to discuss the new print magazine.
“The Fish for Change Journal has been a long time coming. A huge focus of our programs is on student writing and photography. This sparked the concept for a paperback collection of these empowering stories of student’s experiences during Fish for Change programs. In the Fish for Change Journal, you’ll uncover heart-warming stories. I hope it will leave each of you feeling inspired. Genevieve started as a camper during our 2019 Girls Week in Guanaja, Honduras. Later on, she became my intern, roommate, best friend, and biggest inspiration.” Heather Harkavy, Director of Operations of Fish For Change.
Heather: Geniii, what was your first impression taking on this project?
Genevieve: This whole project began on a dusty car ride to Denver in August 2019. As we bumped along I-70 I remember you telling me with such zeal (so much so that your hands were probably not even on the steering wheel at this point) how much you believed in your student’s stories. Stories from kids who had never left the country before. Stories from kids who had been chasing Honduran permit from age 14. Stories from kids of connection, education, conservation, and exploration–Fish for Change’s centermost tenets. I believed in these stories because you believed in these stories and then, ultimately, you put all of your trust in me to curate them for the world to see.
Heather: Can you describe the mission of this publication and where these stories came from?
Genevieve: The energy of a Fish for Change trip is nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. In my case, I was showing up to an island I had never even heard of before, with eleven other girls I had never met, all in the pursuit of elusive fish on pristine flats. After only one week, I left Guanaja with some of my best friends at my side–friends that still enrich my life to this very day. It’s a major understatement to say that the experience was magical, and I’m one of dozens of F4C alumni who feel similarly. This has always been the mission of the Fish for Change Journal: to honor and celebrate human connection and camaraderie, to reminisce on the wildest of fish tales, and to (as closely as possible) capture the essence of the Fish for Change experience. This inaugural issue of the F4C Journal proudly presents writing and imagery from students, trip leaders, and individuals who’ve played a formative role in the organization, the majority of them under the age of 23.
Heather: What about this publication stands out?
Genevieve: The articles in this magazine are so much more than about fly fishing. If anything, fly fishing is merely the glue of it all that comes second to stories on colonial history, generational privilege, personal reflection, entrepreneurship, natural disaster, and more. Don’t worry though, there’s also plenty of hype pieces and hero shots in there to satiate your saltwater stoke! This magazine is unlike any other magazine out there–in mission, content, and aesthetic–and I’m so proud to be able to produce this collection of stories from such a diverse group of people from as young as 15 and from as far as South Africa!
Heather: What do you think were the biggest hurdles in creating this publication?
Genevieve: Very early on in the process, we were advised against even trying to make a magazine at all, and we’re told things like “it’ll be too costly,” “it’ll require too much-skilled labor,” and “why don’t you just make a photo album”. These were mildly disheartening because, quite frankly, neither of us knew what we were doing. I was fresh out of high school, had only briefly dabbled in graphic design before this point (having never used Adobe InDesign before), and was prompted to somehow pull together and edit a series of stories from what felt like thin air. The process took twice as long as I thought it would, we asked a lot of questions with answers we couldn’t find, and I spent quite a lot of time YouTubing tutorials on even the simplest things. Fifteen articles later and 86 pages deep, all I can say is that I’m glad I stuck to it (regardless of how much time and how many blood-boiling glitches it took).
Heather: What have you learned through this process? And do you have any advice for other people with similar interests and goals?
Genevieve: A lot of what I learned in this process is that there is no end-all “right” way to do things. Yes, there are more efficient or conventional ways of doing things, and you can learn from these ways, but it doesn’t mean it’s the only way to proceed in your creative pursuits, career path, and/or life in general. If you have a vision for something you want to create into being, it’s as simple as choosing to make it happen as your only choice. It might take years, you might redirect yourself to do something completely different, and the original idea might completely fail, but it’s the constant act of trying that’ll get you somewhere (maybe someplace even greater than you originally saw for yourself).
Heather: What do you hope readers take away from this?
Genevieve: Well first, it’s my greatest hope that people actually take the time to read all of the stories. They’re really worth it, and unlike any other published work out there! I hope readers leave looking inward to ask “in what ways can I positively enact change?”, “what things bring me to life?”, and “how can I foster deeper human connection in my day-to-day life?”. These questions and more come up in every Fish for Change program, and I hope that in reading these stories readers will return to the water with a renewed sense of purpose and place.