My name is Will Lillard, founder, and director of Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions. After receiving my undergraduate degree in Political Science, I searched for careers I felt made a positive impact. For five years, I divided my time between the environmental education and fly fishing industries. During that time I was an environmental/outdoor educator for eight seasons and spent four summers as a guide on adult and youth fly fishing trips. These experiences opened my eyes to the commitment to conservation among people who are given the opportunity to fly fish and backpack in pristine wilderness. Providing these enjoyable experiences in nature for as many people as possible has become my passion. Inspiring future conservationists to help protect the areas I have grown to love is my reward.
In 2010, I followed this passion back to school for a Masters Degree in Environmental Conservation Education. It was through my research at NYU that I confirmed my belief in the value of combining outdoor education with fly fishing for the promotion of environmental education. I was not surprised to discover that research supported my belief that recreational fishermen and women have a greater environmental ethic than individuals who do not participate in outdoor recreation. With over 30 million participants in the U.S. each year (second among outdoor recreation activities only to wildlife watching), fishing is a major resource for teaching environmental conservation. What surprised me was the rapid decline in recreational fishing participation in the United States. Since 1991 recreational fishing has lost an average of 333,000 participants each year. The primary cause of this decline has been the failure to recruit younger generations of fishermen and women. Motivated by alarming trends in fishing participation, I realized the need for fishing education programs that get teenagers to put down their cell phones and pick up a fishing rod. Using my experiences working in the environmental education and fly fishing industries, and what I learned earning my Masters Degree, I developed Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions.
Combining traditional wilderness adventure education programs with fly fishing and community service makes our Adventure Academies completely unique summer programs. I hope you will help me in my mission to inspire future generations of fly fishing conservationists. Join us where fly fishing, adventure education, and service learning meet, and conservationists are born.