The Trout Unlimited Costa 5 Rivers program is creating the most empowered, educated, and conservation-minded generation of college fly anglers in history. As the capstone of Trout Unlimited’s Headwaters Youth Program, we welcome young anglers of all skill levels and educate them about local, regional, and national issues critical to native trout and salmon.
5 Rivers clubs are active on over 70 colleges and university campuses in the U.S. and Canada. Our efforts to connect clubs to each other, and to Trout Unlimited’s mission, would not be possible without dedicated support from our partners, specifically Costa Sunglasses. Costa has been the industry powerhouse behind 5 Rivers since its inception in 2012, and its continued support has enabled us to expand our reach and explore new opportunities to connect with club members. Also, thanks to a recent grant from the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, six 5 Rivers clubs received grants for fly fishing gear and stream sampling supplies to help them host youth education projects in their communities.
As pandemic restrictions have eased across the country, we are doubling down on efforts to connect students with each other and to cultivate meaningful experiences in the outdoors. Here are a few examples of the 5 Rivers community in action:
In April, we hosted the Midwest Rendezvous in Viroqua, WI. Midwest club members learned about the ecology of the Driftless region, built future trout habitats, picked up trash, and caught some wily Driftless trout.
In September, we hosted the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous near Steamboat Springs, CO. Colorado club members gathered at Stagecoach State Park to fish, camp, and give back to the Yampa through a service project with Ian Wilson, Trout Unlimited’s Yampa and White Rivers Project Manager.
In the spring of 2023, we will host the Midwest Rendezvous in Wisconsin’s Driftless region and the Southeast Rendezvous in the southern Appalachian highlands.
In August 2023, we are revitalizing the Costa Ambassador Summit on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. At the Summit, students will deepen the experiences initiated during the regional rendezvouses and channel their energy into a collaborative service project with program partners Indifly and Shoshone and Arapahoe Tribal Fish and Game.
This year, we will also award grants from the 5 Rivers Community Fund, thanks to a generous donation from the S. Kent Rockwell Foundation, with the goal of empowering 5 Rivers clubs to create positive change on local streams and rivers through hands-on conservation projects. The S. Kent Rockwell foundation has been an incredible partner of TU’s Headwaters youth program for several years, and we are excited to offer this opportunity to 5 Rivers clubs.
The 5 Rivers program may look different than it did in years past, but the spirit of the program remains as fiery as ever thanks to the individual club members and leaders who keep the stoke alive on their campuses. These students are the future leaders of the fly fishing industry and conservation field, and there is no doubt that the impact they are making now will continue to ripple throughout their communities long after their involvement in the 5 Rivers program.