By Chris Hunt (courtesy TROUT magazine)
Some big changes are in store for Internet users who visit Trout Unlimited via its website.
In May, TU went into the technical launch phase of its brand-new website, a much more interactive online experience that allows visitors to join “groups,” add their own content and become a more active player in TU’s online community.
What’s more, it gives TU’s communications team the ability to “elevate” content created by members—everything from blog posts, photos and even videos—to the front page of TU.org, and share it with the world.
“It’s an immersive experience,” says TU’s Director of Online Operations Amanda Thacker-Heidtke, who helped gather a team of consultants and technical experts to create and launch the site. “I think TU members and people who just love to fish will find the site useful. In one place, they’ll learn everything they need to know about TU’s trout and salmon conservation efforts, and they’ll be able to connect with anglers all over the country and just talk fishing.”
The new site, thanks to its “Go Fishing” feature, puts much more emphasis on angling and helping anglers interact with one another. For instance, one group on the new website is focused solely on the pursuit of big brown trout—its members converse via the group, and discuss locations, tactics and tips for chasing big browns on the fly. Other groups are region-specific, like the Greater Yellowstone group, whose members share information about fly fishing in and around Yellowstone National Park.
“Our new website will provide a place for people who love to fish to come together and share information, photos, video, stories, fly patterns and stories with other anglers,” says TU’s President and CEO Chris Wood, who came up with the idea for the site several years ago. “It took us a few years to get it right, but thanks to our web team and the dozens of volunteers who helped, we think we’re on the right track.”
Not only does the new website—still located at TU.org—include new features that encourage interaction, it’s bolder, more colorful and more focused on the people who make TU work, whether it’s TU staffers or TU volunteers who are making a difference in their own communities. The site features great ways to connect with TU, be it through the organization’s blog, or through local chapters and state councils.
And all the traditional features—like being able to join TU online, or donate to TU through the Coldwater Conservation Fund—are easy to find via the “Get Involved” tab. Other dependable features—like links to the TU blog, the TU podcast and TU’s library of press releases—are also easy to find. Locating specific TU projects is easier now, too, either through the site’s interactive map feature, or through its search feature.
“We’ve really tried to create an experience that our members will enjoy, both for its ease of use and our ability to share information our members—and anglers in general—want,” Thacker-Heidtke says. “I think, as more and more people use the site and help us really build an interactive online community, people will find ways to use the site that we didn’t even think about.”
If you haven’t yet, visit TU.org and create a member account. Once you do that, explore a bit, and join some groups that interest you. Better yet, create your own group and invite friends to participate. Share your passion for fishing and help TU build an online community that will help support the work TU does on the ground all over America.
“People join TU because they love to fish,” Wood says. “Their experience with other members helps to engage them in protecting and restoring the rivers we love. The new website marries the passion we share for fishing with robust conservation content and will help to create online communities of anglers.”
Chris Hunt is TU’s national communications director.