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2018 2-Fly
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Phil Johnson Exceptional Leadership Award

PROJECT HEALING WATERS FLY FISHING, INC. (PHWFF) takes great pleasure in presenting the Chapter of Excellence Award to Old Pueblo Trout Unlimited (OPTU) for its partnership with the PHWFF Tucson Program from 2009 to 2020. During this period, OPTU provided PHWFF excellence in outreach within their geographical area, fundraising support, PHWFF program services, volunteer recruitment and retention, program innovation, and increased community awareness for the PHWFF mission, vision, and core values.

The PHWFF Tucson Program began operating in April 2009 in partnership with OPTU and the Ft. Huachuca Warrior Transition Unit and Southern Arizona VA Healthcare System in Tucson. Since that time, OPTU provided significant monetary aid over the years and supplied experienced volunteers who generously donated their time, skills, and knowledge while always treating the participants with patience and respect.

PHWFF Tucson volunteers made the 150-mile roundtrip to Ft. Huachuca to conduct fly-tying classes at the Warrior Transition Unit. These classes continued until 2012 when the U.S. Army disbanded the WTU. Wanting to continue to serve a need in the area, they moved fly-tying to the American Legion Post in Sierra Vista and the Southern Arizona Veterans Administration Healthcare System in Tucson. Thanks to the amazing leadership and support from OPTU, PHWFF Tucson volunteers continued to provide fly-tying classes at these locations.

Their first rod building classes started in the fall 2009. In 2010 and 2012 PHWFF Tucson participants received national recognition for their fly rods. For at least the last five years PHWFF Tucson participants completed every rod provided through the National Rod Building Program. The PHWFF Tucson made this accomplishment possible by an almost one-to-one instructor to participant ratio. Again, all made possible by OPTU members with extensive rod building experience, led by Bob Cobb.

Thanks also to OPTU member support, PHWFF Tucson conducts weekly casting classes. OPTU provides PHWFF Tucson participants with TU memberships. OPTU encourages participants to attend OPTU meetings where speakers discuss fishing locations, conservation, or general information about fly fishing.

Several of the OPTU volunteers served the PHWFF Tucson Program since the first days at Fort Huachuca and most volunteers participate weekly. Remarkably, three PHWFF Tucson volunteers from OPTU wear ten-year service pins and several others have five-year service pens. Assisted by these volunteers, PHWFF Tucson provides over one hundred fly tying classes, 40 day fly fishing outings, and approximately 15 overnight fly fishing outings. Thanks to the exceptional leadership from the OPTU membership, the PHWFF Tucson Program enjoys remarkable camaraderie with participants and strong relationships with local supporters.

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. is proud to bestow on the Old Pueblo Trout Unlimited the Chapter Excellence Award for tireless and extraordinary service to Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing and to those wounded warriors and disabled veterans whom this organization serves.