A ‘Model of Citizenship’

December 07, 2015

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Fly fishing is more than a pastime to Jim Josefson, Associate Professor of Political Science at Bridgewater College. To him, it’s an avocation that encompasses a passion for improving the health of fisheries and rivers, taking responsibility for the environment and modeling how to be a better citizen in one’s community.

A longtime member of Trout Unlimited, an organization dedicated to the conservation of coldwater fisheries and their watersheds across North America, Josefson is currently the president of the Shenandoah Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited and worked with the chapter to create a new fishery, the South River Special Regulations Area near Waynesboro, Va., that opened in 2011.

As part of the effort, Josefson and his fellow chapter members spoke to local landowners to negotiate access and worked with various entities in local and state government, including the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Regarding the establishment of the fishery, he said, “It’s not just about a desire to fish. It’s about a desire to create the kind of environment where wilder fish grow and thrive.”

Working in partnership with local businesses, community members and government is ultimately a model of citizenship, he explained. It might be part of a job or through participation in civic organizations, whether that’s a special interest organization such as Trout Unlimited or the Rotary Club. All are opportunities to “take responsibility in the community.” His goal is to show how citizenship operates and train the next generation to contribute as well.

Josefson wants to introduce his Bridgewater students to this aspect of citizenship, too. He’s the adviser for the Fly Fishing Club, which started in 2014 and provides a new opportunity for students to participate in the intersection of recreation and environmental responsibility.