Fly-ties bind kids with conservation

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What started out as a one-time, one-week class on fly-tying has blossomed into a non-profit organization that teaches kids to be good stewards of the environment.

From its humble beginnings in 1979 when two Baldwin-Whitehall teachers, Paul Hindes and Chuck McKinney, started the group to connect kids to activities that preserve and protect the environment, the Family Tyes group now offers various classes and activities year-round.

Jeff Allison, the co-director of the program at the Harrison Middle School in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District, said the group was originally known as the Baldwin Fishing Club.

He said the club now touches thousands of kids and their parents each year by teaching them about conservation, the outdoor industry and their role as environmental stewards.

Mr. Allison said the group offers classes at 25 school districts across Western Pennsylvania.

Family Tyes will conduct beginners and intermediate fly-tying and fly-fishing classes on Wednesday evenings Feb. 3 -- April 29.

Classes will meet at the Harrison Middle School at 129 Windvale Drive from 7:15 to 9 p.m. The $20 fee includes the student and all family members.

Mr. Allison said for insurance reasons membership in Family Tyes is required for participation in classes and any of the fishing trips sponsored by the group during these sessions.

Those who are interested can register on the first night of class. Tool kits and materials kits will be available for sale there, he said.

Mr. Allison said each spring the organization offers classes on beginning and intermediate fly-tying and fly-fishing.

"We also go out to Meadow Run and learn about invertebrates in the water," he said.

He said the classes typically see from 30-40 people in each.

In the fall, the group offers classes on steel head fishing in the streams near Erie. It also offers classes on how to build fly rods.

Mr. Allison said the group's goal is to provide life-long, positive alternatives to the negative influences of drugs and alcohol by organizing year round activities that promote family values, volunteerism, educational processes and business skills development. He said parents and other community members have responded over the years by becoming mentors and teachers.

Mr. Allison said local corporate, professional and business partnerships have also provided members with the opportunity to learn and develop business skills in real business situations.

Students also make annual presentations at Pittsburgh's Harvard, Yale Princeton Club to area outdoorsman and travel to consumer fishing shows regionally and nationally.

For more, call Mr. Allison at 412-780-3787.

Freelance writer Ken McCarthy can be reached in care of .


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