If you’re active in this organization for any length of time, chances are you’ve heard the phrase “One TU”.  But what exactly does that mean?  It feels good to say – but is it real?  Is it just a marketing slogan?


In my 15 years of being involved in Trout Unlimited, I can honestly say it’s not just a catch phrase.  One TU is a philosophy that underscores all the good work we do together.  It’s the idea that our collective contributions can result in something much greater than our individual achievements.   


We use lines on a map to organize ourselves into Regions, State Councils, and local Chapters.  Meanwhile the world around us uses our data to stereotype and further divide us.  Nature pays no attention to this.  The trout don’t care about these boundaries, unless they become physical in-stream impediments.   


We strive to be as inclusive as possible, giving everyone an opportunity to do some good.  We know to check our egos at the door, because the challenges facing our cold water resources are complex, and require us to work collaboratively to achieve the best possible outcomes.


I recently attended the Wisconsin’s Northeast Regional Meeting.  Leaders from six area Chapters came together in December to share ideas, learn from each other, and hear about projects from area resource professionals.  The Chapters pooled their own resources, and were able to support important habitat work in the area to be performed by TU National, the US Forest Service, the DNR, and the Oconto County Forestry Dept.


These future projects have volunteer components built into them.  Our partners recognize the importance of allowing our members to take part in the restoration work.  We’re all in this together.  I’m always excited to hear about Chapters holding joint workdays.


The first TU workday I ever attended was a collaboration between the Southeastern and Ocooch Creek Chapters (now part of Coulee Region TU).  I drove 3 hours to get there, and carved out a little camping and fishing time before and after the project.  I left home on a Friday not really knowing anyone who would be there.  I came home on Sunday having met what would turn out to be several life-long friends.


The One TU philosophy also applies outside our organization.  The work we do in our communities is reflective of this.  Just look at the Trout In The Classroom program.  We’re connecting kids to the natural world in a way that sparks a lifetime of curiosity.  We’re also helping them understand that our actions have consequences, for better or worse. 


And our Veterans Service Partnership programs create some of the most humbling, and rewarding, volunteer experiences you can find.  Spending time on the water with our military veterans generates a unique camaraderie.  It’s a bond that’s not likely to break, and elevates our sense of service.


Want to see the One TU model in action?  Attend the Wisconsin TU Banquet in Oshkosh on Feb. 1.  You’ll join TU National staff (TU’s Chris Wood is rumored to be in attendance), State Council Leadership, Chapter grassroots volunteers, and partners in the conservation community as we celebrate cold, clean, fishable water in Wisconsin.    


Sure we’ll honor some individual achievements during our Awards Ceremony, but these are people doing their work for all the right reasons.  Their accomplishments are part of a larger cold water conservation story.  And we all have a role to play in that story. 


“One TU” spans across time.  One generations work benefits the next.  We do what we can to protect and enhance our cold water resources while we’re here, then pass on this legacy to our kids and grandkids in hopes that they will do the same.


So are we just the sum of our parts?  I think we’re something even greater, we’re One TU.  See you in Oshkosh on the 1st.


Much Respect,

Mike Kuhr

Wisconsin TU State Council Chair