Amy MilneRegional Coordinator, The Heartland

Amy currently resides in Missouri where she grew up.  Upon graduation, Amy began what is affectionately known as “the migration West”, attending Denver Art Institute for certification as a professional picture framer and then on to THE University of Washington to study recreation management.  The combination seemed to be a perfect fit for the dream job with the State of Washington in Parks and Recreation.  The first position was as an intern and were spent marking new parks, lining ball fields, counting fish on the salmon runs up the fish ladders it was a spectacular setting and the start of things to come.  She often would film the outings on the old VHS videos and send home to her family claiming that she was living the life of National Geographic!  There were adventures off logging roads, mountain lakes and she first experienced wild cut throat on a random marking trip for DNR.  During the time working for Washington State, she gained experience in writing budgets, grants, and programming for special use areas plus certified by the state in Emergency Management Training and as a first responder.

Anticipating budget changes, Amy went to the private side of the industry known as Golf Course Management in the state of Oregon and worked for American Golf for the next several years as a tennis professional and recreational programmer.  The job became a mix of several entities but primary focus was for the programming, moving golf courses from a predominately male sport to Clubs that could decrease attrition with family memberships and an environment that included camps, lessons and amenities.  There were multiple moves, which allowed time on some of the most beautiful courses on the West Coast.   In 2002, Amy made a move as a contract programmer to the Midwest and accepted a position with Old Kinderhook Golf Course at The Lake of the Ozarks, from there to Winghaven CC and then on to be the General Manager of Creve Coeur Racquet Club.    Missing the golf course setting, Amy accepted a position of the Director of Sales for Forest Park Golf Course in St. Louis where she has been for the past 11 years overseeing an annual budget for non golf sales over 1M.

While most may be in awe at the scenery of each location, the time did not involve fly fishing.  Counting fish that do not know how to use a man made fish ladder, yes, fishing for them, no.  It was mostly a time factor and not until returning to St Louis that the hobby was able to take hold.  Growing up in Missouri, her family was always near water but ‘On the Fly” was someone of a reinvention and connection between Amy and her father.  Her dad had always fly fished.  A few years ago, at her request, he passed on his retired vise and taught her to tie and cast with some parking lot lessons.  According to her, her dad is the original fish whisperer.  Her dad’s dedication to the environment, active participant in IFFF, TU and the Missouri Dept of Conservation was just passed on through being brought up in that atmosphere, for which she is extremely grateful.  Amy’s dad, their family have a mark on Missouri Conservation history as her dad was the last winning artist in 1995 of the Missouri Trout stamp before the requirement to possess the actual trout stamp was retired.  Amy has the #1 print in the collection.  Thankfully, according to her – it also helped open a few doors with the new adventure of Fly Fishing.  The local fly shops knew her dad so she must have rated “ok” and was easily accepted into the sport.

When her youngest child was learning to drive, Amy would be dropped off stream side while the driving lessons began.  Typically, they would return 5-6 hours later full of new driver intelligence!  It helped hone the skills, of both fisher and driver!  Amy is the proud mother of three, Kyle, the eldest, attended University of Missouri with a BA in Hospitality Management and is a manager at The Hyatt.   Curtis, attends Mississippi State on an extended academic scholarship for architecture.  He is currently on assignment in Alabama for 14 months, then to Jackson where upon completion, will return to MSU to graduate.   Her youngest and only daughter, Taylor is a senior in high school and earning a dual major for fire fighting and EMT while attending her primary High School.  Taylor’s ambition is to join the Army in May as a Medic.

The introduction to Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing came as somewhat of a fluke as an introduction from a client at Forest Park.  His enthusiasm and conviction was contagious so after the meeting, she went back to her desk and googled PHWFF.  She showed up at the VAMC meeting where the first evening had an opportunity to tie with a younger Veteran.  The experience was life changing.  To this day, Amy can barely tell the story without tears welling up at the young man’s appreciation that some stranger came in and sat to talk fishing, tie flies and just be accepting of his condition.  The experience was literally and physically changing.  Since that time, Amy has gone on to become an advocate for Veterans, the PHWFF Mission and Program along with bringing in valuable donations though coordinating various fundraising efforts.

Amy looks forward to joining the program as The Heartland Regional Coordinator.  Her drive for providing clear communication plus history with budgets, fundraising and fondness of fishing hope to be her primary focus so that the Program Leads, Participants and Volunteers are given the ultimate experience with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.

On a side note, Amy was injured in an accident following her time in Colorado.  She underwent 7 shoulder surgeries and was the recipient of the first shoulder fusion done in the country.  The surgery was preformed at The University of Washington.  The shoulder fusion left her with less than 3% range of motion on her left shoulder yet, despite the injury, she has gone on to adapt.  Her experience brings an empathy to the Disabled Veterans in the program and she is teaching herself to use all of the adaptive equipment to be a better teacher.