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.