Coal Creek
Watershed Foundation
Charter Board Member
John Thurman Honored
by Trout Unlimited
As "National Leader In
Youth Education"

John Thurman pictured exploring
Coal Creek in 2000,
when he came across Briceville
brothers Jonathan
and Richerd (Harvey) Sharp

searching for critters in the creek...

John Thurman of Norris, Charter Board Member of the Coal Creek Watershed Foundation and longtime member and volunteer for the Clinch River Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU), has been named winner of the "National Youth Education Leadership" Award by Trout Unlimited, recognizing his contributions to creating a new generation of conservationists. 

The annual award honors a TU volunteer who demonstrates exemplary leadership and a deep passion for inspiring young people to become thoughtful, responsible stewards of North America's coldwater fisheries. It will be presented to Thurman on Sept. 5 during the TU annual meeting in Santa Fe, N.M., and will be noted in the winter issue of TROUT magazine. 

Thurman first joined TU in 1970 and helped found the Clinch River Chapter in 1996. He has been chapter president and a board memberóbut current president Dick Geiger says Thurman's focus for more than a decade has been on developing youngsters' interest in natural aquatic systems. He has served as the chapter's Youth Education Committee chair since TU first increased its emphasis on youth programs in 2001.

Thurman holds a bachelor of science in forestry from Iowa State University and a master's in wildlife ecology from Purdue University. He worked in environmental quality and compliance for the Tennessee Valley Authority, but found his true vocation after retiring from TVA in 1994. In retirement he became an aquatic entomologistóand in that role, greatly expanded his involvement with youth.

Thurman's biggest contribution to Tennessee youth has been development, with Jack Betchick of TU's Delta Chapter in Memphis, of the Great Smoky Mountains Trout Adventure Camp sponsored by the Tennessee Council of TU. Thurman developed a dual approach for the camp in which staff of the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont provide instruction in stream ecology, limnology and physics while TU volunteers teach casting, fishing and fly tying. The camp in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which has just completed its fourth year, also incorporates technical skills of staff from the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service.

John Thurman pictured at Annual Coal Creek Health Days at Briceville School:


In his other work with youth, Thurman has:


As a Charter Board Member of the Coal Creek Watershed Foundation, John assisted in developing Coal Creek Health Day at Briceville Elementary School, an annual event at which pupils study Coal Creek as it runs beside the school and compare what they must to do maintain healthy bodies with what we all need to do to maintain healthy stream ecosystems.


Developed his own Kids in the Creek program involving area children with nature, both during the school year and during summer vacation.


Planned and overseen construction of a natural pond system at Norris Elementary School.


Made presentations to middle school and high school students that include field trips to streams.


Helped develop the chapter's program with the Boys and Girls Club of Oak Ridge.


Mentored Boy Scouts as they earn fishing and fly fishing merit badges.


Individually encouraged youngsters to continue pursuing interests sparked by chapter and camp activities. For example, a former trout camper, still in high school, has been elected to the chapter's board.

"When it comes to youth education and conservation, John Thurman is a role model we are proud to have as a resource," Geiger says.


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