The rivers need people like you

Long ago, a wise and influential man told me, in a low and gravelly voice that matched the importance of his words, "The rivers need people like you." Last month, I was reminded of these compelling words when I was honored to receive the Silver Trout Award. The award, given by the Silver Trout Foundation, recognizes individual volunteers whose body of work in support of Colorado's rivers has left a significant and lasting impression.

If you were at Colorado TU's Rendezvous 2017, you heard me nervously stumble through an acceptance speech. I had one memorized in advance, but altered it on the spot because of the way I was introduced. I've since been encouraged to share that speech for others and I welcome the opportunity to deliver it without stumbling!

Thank you. I've always been honored to work with such a passionate and committed group of people. Now I'm humbled to be in the company of other award winners.

Ken [Neubecker] mentioned that he met me at a volunteer day where I was flipping burgers, and it reminded me of a story that I'd like to share.

That volunteer day, at Buffalo Peaks Ranch in 2008, was my very first volunteer experience with Colorado TU. Sinjin [Eberle] had enlisted my help to cook lunch. Honestly, I wasn't a TU member or even a river conservationist at the time. I was simply helping a friend out.

The last person I flipped a burger for happened to be the late Charlie Meyers of the Denver Post. I shut down the grill and joined him for lunch. I tried to thank him for the media coverage of the event, but he cut me off and thanked me for helping to restore the river.

We talked about a lot of things and I don't recall the details anymore, but I do remember how it ended. He grabbed my arm to make sure he had my attention, looked me in the eye and said, "You know, the rivers need people like you."

He didn't sound like Morgan Freeman, but I felt like Morgan Freeman had just given me my marching orders. Later that day, I told Sinjin I wanted to get more involved in Colorado TU and the rest is history.

So I was a volunteer, but I didn't really become an engaged volunteer until Charlie gave me the push I needed. We all know someone like this, someone who just needs a push to get involved. I want to encourage all of you to push that person - you might be creating a future Silver Trout Award winner. Thank you.

I added the bit about Morgan Freeman. Sure wish I'd thought to say it at the podium!

For those who don't know, Ken Neubecker is the current President of the Silver Trout Foundation and a past president of Colorado TU. Sinjin Eberle, who was a good friend even before the Buffalo Peaks Ranch projects, is the Director of Communications for American Rivers and a past President of Colorado TU. Both are Silver Trout Award winners.

Charlie Meyers, an outdoors writer for the Denver Post, covered his beats for 40 years. He died in January of 2010 from complications due to lung cancer.