The Greenbrier Sporting Club’s Director of Outdoor Pursuits, Jacob Ott, has been participating in several “Teach a Boy to Fish” events at Boys Home of Virginia in Covington. Elaine Brelsford, Marketing Manager, has shared the following article with us, stating how “he has impacted both the residents and the staff with his enthusiasm and expertise.” We are fortunate to have such an invaluable resource on our Sporting Club team.
Greenbrier Sporting Club’s Jacob Ott Inspires Young Fly-fishermen at Boys Home of Virginia
By Elaine Brelsford
Jacob Ott, Director of Outdoor Pursuits at the Greenbrier Sporting Club, says that when he was a boy, he nearly always had “fishing rods in one hand, a shotgun in the other, and was tripping over bird dogs.” A native of Buffalo, New York, Jacob began fly-fishing at age ten when his father showed him all he knew and then let Jacob figure out the rest. Jacob immersed himself in what little he could find about fly-fishing at the time, which mostly included reading and watching television shows about the sport.
A graduate of Salem International University with a B.S in Environmental Science, Jacob has been employed at the Greenbrier Sporting Club since 2001. His office is located inside a log cabin with a picturesque pond to one side and a bubbling stream to the back. His job entails accompanying and teaching club members as they fish, hunt, shoot, hike, camp, and birdwatch. Three times a year, he plans special events. In the spring, he leads a three-day fly-fishing school. The fall finds him coordinating a dove hunt, and then there’s the annual sporting clays tournament that members so enjoy. Add being a husband and father to the list and it would seem that Jacob might already have his stringer full.
However, for the last two years, Jacob has committed time, energy, and expertise to Boys Home of Virginia’s “Teach a Boy to Fish” events. Boys Home, located about thirty minutes from White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, is a residential educational nonprofit nestled in the heart of the Alleghany Mountains of Virginia. Boys Home houses and educates nearly 60 at-risk boys, ages 6-18, who have been impacted by poverty or family instability. Hoping to make a positive difference in the lives of these young men, Boys Home’s motto is “A successful man has to start somewhere.” Teach a Boy to Fish is a program designed to teach the residents to fly-fish, something they can do often on the portion of Dunlap Creek that winds through the Boys Home campus.
Jacob teaches the residents the raw basics of how to cast a fly rod and then has them practice their skills by having them participate in games of accuracy and distance casting. By then, most are able to make a fishable cast and can move into the river and begin fishing with their newly-acquired skills. From there, Jacob says, “Once you know the basics, it’s just time on the water. Eventually, it works well.” Jacob also spends time with interested members of the Boys Home staff, teaching them casting and rigging so they can assist the boys once the event has concluded.
When asked what he enjoys most about volunteering at Boys Home, Jacob is quick to say that it is “watching the kids have fun as they get to experience fly fishing.” He goes on to point out why fly fishing can be important to the residents. Jacob maintains, the young men “have another tool in their box. They have something to steer them down the right path.” Yes, at Boys Home, a successful man does have to start somewhere. That start is often a result of spending time with someone like Jacob Ott.
Rehabilitation of watersheds is used to improve the fish habitat that has been damaged due to human activity. Jacob Ott, Director of Outdoor Pursuits/Naturalist at The Greenbrier Sporting Club, has been assisting Trout Unlimited in a rehabilitation project along a portion of Dunlap Creek. According to Jacob, he has spent the past two years working with Trout Unlimited to secure the permits so this landowner could rehab some portions of Dunlap Creek along his property. This stream suffered from a lack of fish habitat due to historical land use practices.
Historical land use practices involved a stream being straightened and widened, which was a common practice and has been used on “just about everything in our area,” according to Jacob.
The project along Dunlap Creek should allow the native brook trout in the tributaries near this property to use the main-stem of Dunlap throughout a longer period of the year. This will also improve the survivability of stocked trout in this area of the stream. The rehabilitation work all falls under Trout Unlimited’s “Upper James River Home Waters Initiative.”
Brook trout, found throughout North America, are known as eastern brook trout in our region. They inhabit rivers, streams, creeks, spring ponds, as well as small and large lakes. Their native range has been drastically reduced in the east due to habitat loss and the introduction of other trout species. They prefer clear waters on a narrow pH that is well oxygenated with high purity.
To read more about this particular project, click here.
Very similar work has been done on the East Fork of the Greenbrier River by Trout Unlimited and WVDNR and USFWS. That project is part of the “Eastern Home Rivers Initiative.”
All of these projects aim to restore, reconnect, and improve the smaller headwater streams in our area.
We at Neighbors Loving Neighbors have been working diligently to do our best to help all of those impacted by the June 23 floods throughout West Virginia get back on their feet and begin what will be a long recovery process.
With your help, we have already been able to make a major impact in several communities throughout West Virginia.
In our own backyard, we have teamed with organizations such as the West Virginia National Guard, Mennonite Disaster Services, Glenn Beck’s Mercury One, Gleaning for the World, and the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security – all under the umbrella of the West Virginia Volunteer Organizations Assisting in Disaster. These organizations have worked in White Sulphur Springs to demolish irreparable homes, repair homes that could be repaired and rebuild. Currently, there are 32 repairs ongoing and additional homes are under construction. More families are being added to that list every day. I encourage you to go online to Greenbrier.com and click on the Press Room link at the bottom of the screen to read our Aug. 26 press release for more details on this project.
This is only the start. This same template is being used throughout West Virginia, providing help and hope to as many people as we can impact.
In addition, we are currently in the process of rebuilding a gymnasium in the Nicholas County community of Richwood, giving the youth of the town a place to socialize and exercise and providing a facility where community members can come together and put their problems aside, if only for a few moments.
Area churches have also received funding from Neighbors Loving Neighbors to help address immediate needs in their respective communities.
There is still a great deal of work to be done, and the scars from June 23 will forever remain with the people of this great state. But with your help, we are making a difference and helping so many get back on their feet.
Thank you so much for your continued support and for your prayers for those who have lost businesses, homes and lives in this terrible disaster.
The saying that nothing is as important as family came to mean so much more in the aftermath of the June 23rd floods in West Virginia. We saw rainfall of over 9 inches within a short period of time that caused our valleys to flood and lives to be lost. Many members of our community lost everything – homes, belongings, family members or neighbors. In this greatest hour of need, our community came together with speed, concern, and resources to help those who needed it.
At The Greenbrier Sporting Club, our members say that their number one reason for being here is the people. They own a HOME, not a house; the staff who have greeted them have done so for years, decades, a lifetime. A sense of community and family – always here – was magnified over and over in the days and weeks following the flood. Within hours of the event, members of our community had committed funds, resources, and boots on the ground to help with cleanup and restoration.
The Greenbrier hotel opened her doors to house employees and community members who lost homes or could not return to them. 50 East in downtown White Sulphur Springs started cooking food that was on hand and continued to do so for weeks afterwards. Owner and Sporting Club member Tom Crabtree said that once they started cooking food, people just continued to show up and they kept on cooking. Meals were provided to anyone in need. KWCares made an immediate monetary grant and setup a volunteer site in downtown White Sulphur Springs to continue with physical assistance and supplies. Semi-trucks with supplies were directed to our area. Neighbors Loving Neighbors, established by The Greenbrier owner and a Sporting Club member, collected funds to directly assist those in need. To date, that fund has raised over $3 mil. with Neighbors Loving Neighbors now working with Long Term Recovery Effort and VOAD to assist with the recovery and rebuilding effort. Homes for White Sulphur Springs is building a new neighborhood of homes to replace those that cannot be rebuilt in Greenbrier County. This has morphed into a larger effort called Homes for West Virginia.
Every member of our community has helped in some way and the care continues. Our sense of community has never been stronger. With 417 current Sporting Club member families, we have seen our lives touched in so many ways since June 23rd, reminding us all that family matters. We are The Greenbrier Sporting Club family and we have never been more proud to belong together. Click here to support our community: Neighbors Loving Neighbors