Our featured Oak Brook TU Chapter member profile is Marvin Strauch who leads our Youth and Adult Education programs as well as overseeing our Michigan conservation programs such as our Coldwater River watershed macroinvertebrate studies and new focus on the Dowagiac River and its restoration as a Lake Michigan tributary after the removal of the Niles Street dam this summer.
One of the reasons for Marvin’s focus on Michigan projects is that as a principal in Strauch Chemical Distributors—a regional industrial sales company—the wolverine state is conveniently one of his primary sales territories allowing him to combine sales calls with the occasional fishing trip as well as participating as a member of both the Coldwater River and Dowagiac River watershed conservation organizations.
Another reason for Marvin’s affinity for Michigan were his childhood annual family summer vacations in the Michigan Upper Peninsula, where his family built a “getaway” cabin in 1974. This tie to Michigan’s Northwoods instilled a love of the outdoors, and a conservation ethic, from an early age. Marvin can’t remember a time when going “to the lake” wasn’t a part of his life and where he developed an early interest in fishing—mostly for bass and bluegills.
Marvin joined Trout Unlimited in 2000 and has served in various board leadership positions including both President and Vice President. Marvin credits OBTU leaders Wally Bock, Ed Michael, Doug Vanerka, Ken Voight, Doug Greenwood, Clyde Alho, Greg Prosen and Phil Young with introducing him to TU, fly fishing for trout, and becoming involved in the chapter’s youth fly fishing programs.
The chapter’s primary youth education programs are its Youth Fly Fishing Classes which are scheduled monthly from May through September, and its Trout in the Classroom (TIC) program. It was Phil Young who introduced the youth fly fishing program to OBTU 16 years ago in 2003 and later handed it to Marvin. Our Trout in the Classroom program was conceived by Greg Prosen and Marvin in 2008 after learning about a similar initiatives in the U.S.
According to Marvin, the idea of reaching out to young people and bringing his enthusiasm for coldwater conservation, really struck a chord. He finds great satisfaction seeing a young boy or girl catch a fish on a fly rod. And it is equally a joy for him to see young people enjoying themselves walking in a stream and releasing the trout fingerlings they have raised over six months in their classroom aquarium. In many cases, these are things that too few kids get to do today.
Marvin is very proud of our chapter’s youth education accomplishments. By next year we will have taught over a thousand kids to fly fish. On the TIC front, we will be adding our 15th participating school next year, which may be the largest TU chapter TIC program in the country which is also close to half of all of the TIC programs in Illinois. Marvin recognizes that the success of these programs is highly dependent on the 35 volunteers who regularly help with our youth activity programs.
Marvin is married and the father of three adult children including a participating TIC teacher at Prairie View Middle School in Tinley Park.
Hometown: South Side of Chicago
Current home: Hickory Hills
How long as a TU member: 19 years
Introduction to fly fishing: Originally through outdoors/fishing magazines growing up until he joined TU.
Favorite fishing holes: Michigan’s Ontonagon, Muskegon, Au Sable River and Pere Marquette Rivers.