Soul River recently attended an open house hosted by Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC). The WRC protects outstanding river ecosystems in the western United States. We acquire land to conserve critical habitat, provide public access for compatible use and enjoyment, and cooperate with other agencies and organizations to secure the health of whole ecosystems.
The open house was at their headquarters in Portland, Oregon but the organization works to protect the integrity of rivers in Oregon, California, Washington, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.. Soul River was honored to spend the evening learning about this fantastic organization and their future plans to expand out to protect waterways in the interior west and southwest.
Soul River was started, not as simply a fly fishing gear and apparel company, but as a vehicle for positive change in the fly fishing community. A conduit used to give back to a sport that has given me so much in my life and has taught me how to live. As a US Navy veteran suffering from PTSD, I struggled to cope with the pressures of returning to civilian life. It was an incredibly difficult and painful process, and when prescribed medication and therapy wouldn’t work, I felt lost, hopeless at times. Then I was introduced to fly fishing.
It was on the river that I finally found the balance and inner peace I had been so desperately seeking out. Fly fishing was much more than a sport to occupy my time, it was a way to find focus, connect with nature, and ultimately better myself as a healthy way to cope with stresses from the past. I discovered firsthand how important fly fishing is and how it can be a powerful force to inspire positive change in people’s lives. I understood that I now had a responsibility to share this with the world.
That is why giving back and helping veterans has been such an important pillar of our company. Since day one; first conversation, first meeting, and first draft of the business plan, this has been our primary mission; to share the therapeutic healing benefits of fly fishing with those who would benefit from it the most. Staying focused on that goal, we have been driven to use our resources and those of the generous fly fishing community to organize, mobilize, and inspire positive change to veterans while protecting the rivers that have given us so much.Over time, we were finally able to leverage our resources and connections Soul River has developed to create the River Ambassador Program, designed veterans and active duty military develop new skills and ways of responding to the inevitable stress that accompanies returning to civilian life while feeling respected and valued.While the organization had a noble cause, it is the people involved who make a difference and make it happen.
That is why seeing this all come to fruition has been truly rewarding and an unforgettable experience. From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank everyone involved that has volunteered their time and resources to help Soul River achieve our primary goal and make the River Ambassador program a success.
I would like to draw attention to some of our key partnerships who without their help, non of this would have been possible; the Wounded Veterans Fishing Program were instrumental in the process, helping us with logistics and finding soldiers to participate. We would also like to thank the helpful staff at the Bitter Brush Ranch for providing the spectacular location and comfortable accommodations. Lastly, we would like to thank the Northwest Steelheaders Association for their immense resources they contributed, fundraising skills, and ability to bring everyone together to make this a lively memorable experience for all involved. They also brought conventional fishing into the mix with their fishing guides and knowledge, allowing all veterans to explore conventional fishing as well as fly fishing.
I believe all our combined work out on the river over those four days was extremely important and everyone involved should be proud of his or her contributions to this incredible joint effort. I am tremendously proud of all the volunteers, partners, fishing and fly guides, sponsors, donors; everyone who stepped up and helped make this dream a reality.
Thank you for everything
Soul River-Runs Deep
The River Ambassador program, designed to help veterans and active soldiers develop new skills and effective healthy ways to respond to the stress from returning from battle to civilian life has just concluded the 2012 class. The four-day trip on the Deschutes River in Oregon’s beautiful high desert, included lessons in conservation, fly tying, casting, entomology, and nautical river navigation training. Participants were able to share knowledge, hone their skills, and make big steps to move forward in their healing process with healthy coping mechanisms.
We would like to thank everyone that was involved to help make this important program successful and help our valued veterans continue with their healing process. There has been a tremendous joint effort of volunteers, partnerships, fishing and fly guides , sponsorships and donors has had a role to participate in making the River Ambassador Program and success.
Thank you for your service Veterans and active service. And Thank you to all the Volunteers, Sponsors, Donors, Guides an Supporters.