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What's Your Ike's Legacy?

11/30/2018 8:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

by Louise Segreto

Ikes (Izaak Walton League members) have passed on their Legacy of loyalty and commitment to the ideals and mission of the Izaak Walton League for almost 100 years. The more Ikes that I meet, the more I am reminded about how important the League has been to members who feel compelled to pass on their outdoor heritage and Legacy in the League to their family and friends. But, it seems that there are more challenges today than ever before with passing the torch to our next generation of Ikes. Speaking from personal experience, being married with two daughters, finding time as a family to be outdoors requires lots of planning and prioritizing to work around busy schedules and endless other options competing for free time.

A “legacy” is defined by Webster’s Dictionary generally to mean something that is transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor from the past. Someone who I can’t remember once said: “It is what we leave in them that matters most. Possessions and wealth do not a true legacy make.”

With this in mind, I think about what I can do to pass on my Ike’s Legacy. If you were to speak to my family and friends, they would likely relate a funny story: sitting for hours in a blind at Crex Meadows outside of Grantsburg, Wisconsin in the wee hours of the morning to see male sharp-tail grouse do his courtship dance, a spring expedition to Rainey River on a grey windy day bobbing in a small boat getting seasick while waiting for the behemoth sturgeon to bite, or our multiday dogsledding and camping expedition outside of Ely on a subzero February weekend when my family almost became human popsicles. We all have stories like these that we laugh about, retell over and over, and which over time become bigger than they were in reality. It is these shared memories of outdoor experiences that pass on our Ike’s passion to advocate for our natural world and allow us to pass on our Legacy. All it takes is time, planning and a non-selfish attitude to invite someone with less experience and skills to join you on such outdoor adventures.

Those of us with hunting and fishing traditions may have an easier time of passing the torch. The annual duck hunt, deer hunt, or fishing trip is firmly ingrained in many family/extended family traditions. These multi-day activities create intergenerational social glue which forms the fertile grounds for Legacies to be created arising out of shared deep connections to nature and the outdoors. But, even for those who do not have hunting and fishing traditions, there are so many other opportunities that allow for intergenerational outdoor experiences: foraging for wild mushrooms and berries, nature photography, long distance hiking, snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing, or canoeing. And for those less physically active, perhaps a family trip to a nearby nature center, a road trip up to northern Minnesota to Sax-Zim Bog to go owling (looking for owls), or a spring expedition to the Platte River in Nebraska to witness the amazing Sandhill Crane and Snow Goose migration. The list can go on and on.

And, for those non-sporting traditionalists, there are endless ways to make an activity unique and “Instagram worthy.” Why not rent a “princess palace” ice house on Lake Mille Lacs with curtains and a flat screen tv and plan a poetry reading with chocolate fondue and champagne? (Don’t judge, I grew up in Brooklyn, New York and that’s how I ice fish!) The times may require more creative hooks to entice less outdoorsy people to venture outside. And, I think it really helps to be open to using modern technology and nature related phone apps to bridge the generational gap.

Heading into the holidays is the perfect time to give some thought to what you are doing to pass on your Ike Legacy. The gift of time spent outdoors as a role model or mentor to friends and family by inviting them to join you on an outdoor adventure will be far more memorable than another raft of wrapped presents under the tree. Or, what about gifting an Izaak Walton League membership to a friend or family member? The intangible memories and lessons that we pass on to others in the outdoors is part of being an Ike. I urge you to take some time to think about your Ike’s Legacy. If we don’t, we run the risk of there being no one to hand the torch to when we are gone.

And, speaking of not being around forever, please do not forget the Izaak Walton League Bush Lake Chapter in your year-end charitable giving and estate planning. With so many funding cutbacks, your generous gift is more meaningful than ever before. Here’s to a Happy Holiday Season and many new adventures in the New Year!

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