I hope this communication finds you and your family safe and well.
I’m writing this on Palm Sunday. It’s almost bizarre that today wasn’t spent with family and friends during one of the most important Sundays in the Catholic faith. As we enter Holy Week, we all face a unique, unprecedented challenge.
Due to safety concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and Governor Wolf’s statewide stay-at-home order, my fellow PATU Board members and I have decided to reschedule the Western Regional Training in Oil City, currently scheduled for Saturday, May 16, 2020, to a later date.
We are presently considering August 1, 8 or 15 as the new date. We are trying to coordinate two regional trainings in the same two-week span. We’re really not sure what to expect from the next few months, but if you don’t set a date, it will never happen.
This decision was not taken lightly and was a significant personal disappointment for myself. Over the last few weeks, I had scheduled a weeklong trip to meet with the Neshannock, Northwest PA, Caldwell Creek, Cornplanter, and Oil Creek Chapters, over dinner or to view their recent conservation work. I even booked a pike and bass trip with Karl Weixlmann on Presque Isle bay … all cancelled.
As I’ve stated before, this organization doesn’t work without you, our dedicated volunteers. Thus, we must prioritize your health and safety. It was a tough decision to reschedule both trainings, but it had to be done.
2020 will be a challenging year for our organization. Many, if not all of our chapters have had to reschedule their primary fundraising events. If the crisis continues into spring and summer, these same chapters may need to reconsider or postpone their proposed stream improvement projects.
With that said, I challenge all of our chapters to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime quarantine period. I have two specific “asks” of our chapters:
- TECHNOLOGY – Since we can’t gather in groups this spring, try to learn some of the new online meeting technologies, like Zoom and GoToMeeting. I’ve used them professionally and they allow things to get done without an in-person meeting. In fact, we’ll be holding our next EXCOM meeting remotely. Give them a shot for your next Chapter Board meeting.
- STRATEGIC PLANNING – Since we can’t meet or work on conservation projects, I urge all chapters to use this down time to look critically at their current strategic plan. If your chapter does not have a plan, there is no time like the present to create one. Eventually, we’ll be out from under this cloud. Hopefully, we can use this quarantine to develop a plan that allows us to hit the ground running, not just this year, but for the next few years. Personally, I hate developing strategic plans and I imagine many of you do, too. However, none of us can question their importance to our long-term viability as an organization. The work you do now can have benefits to your chapter, your members, and your streams for years to come. Get to it!
Before concluding, I have two more “asks” – each of which is a little more palatable.
First, please do what you can to help those of our partners who are facing a serious financial threat, our fly shops and sporting goods dealers. If you need a new line, or a rod, or a pair of sunglasses, these businesses could really use your help. While it is very convenient to look at the larger retailers, local fly shops and sporting goods shops are the lifeblood of our sport. If we can’t support them during this difficult time, who will? Please patronize where you can. They rarely say “no” when we ask for a donation for our banquet; make sure to say “yes” to them now.
Second, to the extent you can, get outside. You can still fish, hike, or bike, so long as you obey social distancing guidelines. The country is in a tough place right now; these outdoor excursions can be an oasis from the current crisis facing us. Fresh air can do wonders during this critical time (Don’t forget – social distancing!).
I wish you all a safe and happy holiday.
We will get through this.
Thank you for all you do for our streams,