The future of our oceans is in the hands of the next generation of anglers and conservationists. The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust Youth Ambassadors Program recognizes outstanding young leaders in flats fishing and ocean conservation. If you or someone you know would like to participate, please check out our application below!
Elle visits the Florida Keys with her family every year, where she enjoys fishing for snapper, tarpon, and yellow jack. “I have been snorkeling my whole life,” she writes, “and I have noticed how pollution and sunscreen has had a big effect on ocean wildlife and coral. I want to alert people about how certain types of sunscreen used can kill coral depending on what chemicals it has in it.” As a BTT Youth Ambassador, Elle hopes to raise awareness of how pollution damages marine environments, and why these habitats need our protection.
Caitlyn grew up in Florida’s Manatee County fishing for mangrove snapper, bonnethead shark, and grunt in the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, growing up near the water also means she has witnessed how red tide kills many marine species. These experiences have led Caitlyn to become involved in ocean conservation. She has volunteered at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota for several years, and participated in STEM fairs where all her projects have focused on factors that are affecting our oceans and how we can prevent something like red tide from forming.
Jack Walker recently moved with his family to Palm Coast, Florida, where he is enjoying learning to target snook, tarpon, redfish, trout in his local waterways. Jack shared, “I have also been fortunate enough to have experienced a wide spectrum of fisheries from the world-class smallmouth bass fishery in the St. Lawrence River at the New York/Canadian border all the way down to the tarpon and bonefish that live in the Florida Keys. I am grateful to have experienced such a diverse range of fishing opportunities.”
Jack began to learn to fish from his father from the time he could hold a rod and reel. His favorite species to target are tarpon, peacock bass, and smallmouth bass. Besides fishing, he also enjoys journalism, agriculture, and carpentry.
Looking towards the future, Jack aspires to one day have a role in the conservation of the environment. “The ability to preserve our natural resources can allow our fisheries and ecosystems to be healthy for future generations to come, but in order to do this our generation needs to take initiative and cherish our natural resources,” he says. “It is essential that as anglers that we give our undivided attention to ecosystems and fisheries that are suffering.”
Chase Burroughs lives in Houston, Texas, where he was introduced to fishing by his parents at a young age. He regularly fishes in his “backyard” of Galveston Bay and has also taken trips to fly-fish in Louisiana, Mexico, and Belize. His favorite species are redfish, bonefish, and speckled trout, though he says he’s “pretty sure that tarpon will make this list as soon as I have the chance to fish for and catch one.” A rising high school junior, his favorite subject is science, and he’s also an Eagle Scout as well as a running back on his school’s football team. Chase is an avid Dallas Cowboys fan and enjoys bowhunting, weightlifting and bowling in addition to fishing.
“My experiences fishing and volunteering with the Galveston Bay Foundation have really opened my eyes to the need to protect fisheries and coastal environments,” says Chase. “Over the last few years while fishing in Mexico and Belize and even closer to home in my own local Galveston Bay, I noticed the sad amounts of trash washed up in the water, in the wetlands and on the beaches. I’ve learned how the trash is contaminating the natural habitats for birds, fish, and other species that live together in these ecosystems.”
Chase went on to tell us that, “As anglers, we need to do our best to protect our fisheries by promoting conservation of our natural resources, so I have made it a goal for myself to do my part in trying to clean up these environments, and to encourage others to understand the need and join me in doing what we can to take care of the earth.”
Jack Tanner is from Falls Church, Virginia, and grew up fishing with his dad on the Potomac River near Washington, D.C. His favorite species to fish for are brook trout, American shad, and striped bass. Jack notes that striped bass “are very sensitive to pollution and overfishing, which is why it is crucial to not only monitor the population of the fish but also to protect them so they can grow to trophy size.” His favorite subject in school is Math, and when he’s not fishing, he enjoys tying flies, playing football, and weightlifting.
Shelby Berger is a native Virginian who learned to fish with her father at a young age. She has had the opportunity to travel around the world to fish, visiting places like the Florida Keys, Hawaii and New Zealand. Aside from fishing, Shelby enjoys playing tennis, music, and studying Marine Ecology and scuba diving.
Hailing from Grand Bahama, “Big Mike” is a fourth-generation flats fisherman, and was taught how to fish by his father. Mike likes to target bonefish, snapper, and barracuda, but tarpon are his all-time favorite species! While he spends a lot of time on the water, Mike also enjoys sports and is very involved in extracurricular activities at his school.
Stevie was Bonefish and Tarpon Trust’s first inducted Youth Ambassador, and she has not slowed down since! She is an accomplished angler, and caught her first permit at the young age of eleven. Stevie is passionate about conservation, and often spends her time cleaning beaches in her area and researching ways she can help keep our oceans clean.
Parker is our first youth ambassador from Mexico, and also holds the position of our youngest ambassador. He is a fourth grade student in Punta Allen, Quintana Roo, Mexico, and spends his free time cooking and baking, fly-tying, playing soccer and hunting for scorpions. His favorite species to fish for are barracuda, cubera snapper, and, of course, bonefish!
As part of BTT’s Win Back Our Water campaign, we asked Youth Ambassador Jack Walker to weigh in on the water quality issues affecting Florida.
We are excited to introduce Parker Mateo Ucan Bertram as our first BTT Youth Ambassador from Mexico! The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust Youth Ambassadors Program