On February 18-19, 2017, Southwest Regional Coordinator Carole Katz, eleven Southwest Program Leads, and CEO Todd Desgrosseilliers gathered at the Long Beach Casting Club for the 2017 Southwest Region Conference.  RC Carole Katz recounts this important weekend below:

Somehow CEO Todd Desgrosseilliers managed to fly to Southern California on Friday, February 17 when arrivals to most Southern California airports had been cancelled because of record-breaking rain and high winds, but we were glad he was able to make it.

Eleven program leads also came:  Fred Ramirez from Fresno, CA, Ron Bellerose from Las Cruces, NM, David Lipscomb from Martinez, CA, Norm Johnson from Phoenix, AZ, Richard Martin from Redding, CA, David Hoffberg from Sepulveda, CA, Joe Narkevitz from Santa Barbara, CA, Kevin Widner from Show Low, AZ, Jim Owen from Tucson, AZ, Henry Little from San Francisco, CA and Carole Katz from Long Beach.   We all met at the clubhouse and casting pond of Long Beach Casting Club to watch the Southwestern Casting Tournament, an annual event sanctioned by the American Casting Association.   In addition to the tournament games, we saw a demonstration of the Danish Games and the 5-Weight Combination Game.   Afterward we talked about incorporating casting games into our programs as a means of improving casting skills and accuracy and that those games would culminate in a national competition similar to our national rod building and fly tying contests.

Southwest Region Conference

We had a day-and-a-half to talk with Todd, hear plans for the future of PHWFF, discuss issues of concern to all of us and share ideas.   One of the highlights was a discussion of the wader/wading safety program developed by the Phoenix program (you’ll hear more about this later) and plans were made for some collaborative outings.   It’s always worthwhile for our leadership to come together to get to build relationships, but it was especially worthwhile this time when we could get to know Todd.

 

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Todd stayed until Monday so that he could go to the weekly class at Long Beach PHWFF where there was a display of outstanding rods that had been built and some of our alumni came back to meet him.   A representative of a local foundation from which we had received a grant was able to meet Todd and witness all the energy and creativity in our class.   He was very impressed and said so as he left.

 

“Carole Katz and the volunteers at the Long Beach PHWFF Program created an exemplary program for our participants.  Their core program – fly tying, fly rod building, education, and fly fishing outings – all focused on our participants’ physical and emotional recovery.  I’m inspired by the camaraderie and friendship among everyone involved with this program.  Their collaboration and the shared commitment with the Long Beach Casting Club truly demonstrates the merit of our strategic partnership with the International Federation of Fly Fishers.  It was an honor and a privilege for me to meet the Long Beach Casting Club’s members as well as our volunteers and participants during my visit here.  Thank you for all that you do for our organization and for our disabled veterans!!”Todd Desgrosseilliers, CEO PHWFF

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This type of conference goes a long way in terms of re-energizing our volunteers and program leads, and is definitely money well spent.   We look forward to the next get-together and are grateful for the funding that made it happen.