Dear LFFE Alum, Families, Staff, and Friends Old and New, In January of 2012 I graduated from NYU with a Masters in Environmental Conservation Education, the dream of inspiring future generations of sporting conservationists, and a 40+ page thesis about the effectiveness of using fly fishing as a tool for teaching environmental education. Almost two years later, thanks to all of you, that thesis has become Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions and my dream has become a reality. In those two short years LFFE has climbed from 19 to 46 participants, completed over 500 hours of community service, joined the elite ranks of Orvis Endorsed Camps/Expeditions, and so much more! I owe this tremendous growth to all of you; for your faith, support, and passion, I thank you.
First and foremost to all of my friends, family, professors, and classmates who have helped shape LFFE into what it has become, I owe you all a huge thank you for all you have done. In my final summer before starting grad school, I worked as a fly fishing guide in Crested Butte, Colorado. With little money to my name, I spent the summer camped-out less than 200 yards from the river. It was during those quiet nights I dreamed up the concept of LFFE. Sign up some kids, take them backpacking and fishing, boom conservationists for life. It wasn’t quite that easy; but with two years of feedback from classmates, professors, family and friends, LFFE became a registered LLC just two days after my graduation. Two weeks later our friends and family at Ebb & Flow media had built us an amazing website. By the end of the month I was on the road making school visits, made possible only by your faith in LFFE’s mission and your connections that helped get our foot in the door. By May I hoped to have 5 students signed up, instead we had 19. For that I thank you!
Second, to our alumni and their families. Sending your teenager on a plane to go backpacking and fly fishing in the wilderness requires a great deal of trust in an organization. During our first Summer, the parents of 19 students put that trust in a first year company. After the first year our alumni and their families not only trusted in LFFE so much that 14 of the 17 eligible students returned for our second year, but they also shared that trust and experiences with others. Nothing I could say or do will ever compare with the first hand testimonial of a child or their parent. Whether it be by telling a friend, helping us set up a school visit, or opening your homes for a LFFE slideshow, we could not have experienced such great growth without your help. Thank you for your support and we hope to reconnect with families we have already met and look forward to meeting others for the first time during this Winter’s marketing tour.
Last and definitely not least, to all the staff at LFFE that help me to provide teens with these experiences they will remember for the rest of their lives. Leading backcountry fly fishing trips for teens is not going to make any of us rich, but you understand the value of what we do and just how fulfilling a summer spent teaching in the outdoors can be. You are passionate about fishing, wilderness, and conservation, and you share that passion with teens in a fun and memorable way. For that I cannot thank you enough.
Blessed, lucky, or fortunate, I am not sure what to call it, but I certainly am grateful. As LFFE begins to prepare for our third season we look forward to your continued support and another year full of adventure. Take a look below to learn about our 2014 trip dates, our Orvis Endorsement, and our Winter marketing road trip.Sincerely, Will Lillard Founder