Role Of Communication
The importance of communications cannot be emphasized enough in advancing conservation causes. A key strategy over the years has been to keep the members, and the public, up to date on conservation issues through programs at monthly meetings and also in monthly newsletters (first paper, then electronic), and ultimately our website - thanks to Gary Meinke initially and then Woody Ford with our second site for more than a decade of maintenance as webmasters. That strategy was highly successful in the 1980s and early 1990s when we ran a column in lieu of a newsletter in the SC Wildlife Federation's then monthly newspaper, THE OUT-OF-DOORS. I edited the column initially and Dermon Sox followed for several years, both of us very mindful of the TU conservation mission in all our writings. I then initiated a chapter newsletter again in 1994 as restrictions were put on our Federation column by the post office. Dermon again followed as the next newsletter editor, demonstrating his great communications skills honed as a Lutheran minister and fueled by a love of the outdoors and understanding of the key tenet of resource stewardship which the Federation has advanced for years.
There was an additional benefit of the SC Wildlife Federation affiliation. We not only reached an audience of over 5,000 conservation oriented people, but substantially added to our membership base with quality people, including many who took on leadership roles, like Tony Bebber who served as a Chapter President (before going on to serve as President role of the Federation. And the Federation was a key ally as we provided them with our fisheries input and received their considerable support in return. The Camo Coalition as noted above is a program run by the Federation now which allows for strong support on issues via email action alerts from the wide spread sportsman's community that it brings together, ie, strength in numbers.
The State newspaper also ran an OUTDOORS column ably written and edited by Pat Robertson throughout the 80s and 90s (after several years by Gene Able). Gene and Pat's roles in getting the word out on TU and our conservation efforts were key in establishing the recognition and credibility that we have had over the years. We lost a key ally and much public awareness when The State dropped the column completely, both in print and online. However, the SC Wildlife magazine has greatly supported our mission with numerous articles beginning in 1985 that helped to explain the potential of the Saluda as trophy trout fishery and the benefits of catch and release fishing.
We lost a key tool when our electronic newsletter was not published after 2005, with the website serving as our only forum as no one undertook the huge task of maintaining a member data base as we did our first two decades when the number of members was much lower than the current 300+. The newest website and the use of new social media tools should help considerably now, along with continuing improvements and use of the national TU bulk email tool, and also the new TU "Community" website to be rolled out this year for a more watershed-oriented approach to reaching non-member anglers on the internet, and also a no cost website creation feature for chapters and councils, to even include archivals of newsletters, important documents, etc. The key is still to promote fishing and fellowship along with educational and outreach activities, but never allowing the TU conservation mission to be overshadowed as the number one priority.