“Growing up, I didn’t know many 7-year-old girls that loved fly-fishing,” Zoë Mihalas recalls.
The now-high school senior has worked to change that over her 10-year volunteer tenure with the Youth Leadership Council at Trout Unlimited, a national fishery restoration and conservation network. Mihalas encourages kids and young adults to get involved, whether through fly-fishing, promoting conservation or simply enjoying the outdoors.
Having grown up in a digital age, Mihalas challenges young people to share photos of fishing or having outdoors fun with friends on Instagram to bridge the gap between nature and social media. “It’s a good way to get kids motivated to go outside and get into gear,” she says.
Mihalas received the Distinguished Service Award for Youth Education from Trout Unlimited last year for her work in supporting a new generation of conservation-minded youths. But she points out that older generations must also help kids and young adults have the experiences that spark environmental passion.
“A lot of kids these days are very involved on their phones and social media, but that wouldn’t exactly be true if there were older people introducing younger people into the outdoors and showing them, ‘This is how you mountain bike,’ or ‘This is how you fly-fish,” Mihalas notes. “You just have to introduce something to a kid and give them a chance to embrace it.”
Editor’s note: As part of our monthlong celebration of this region’s commitment to sustainable ways of living and working in community, Xpress is highlighting some of those who are making a difference by taking action on a variety of creative and inspiring initiatives.