Stroud™ Water Research Center Watershed Education Specialist Mandy Nix received an award from the Valley Forge Chapter of Trout Unlimited (VFTU) for her outstanding work leading Trout Unlimited STREAM Girls at the Stroud Center since 2019.
“I am honored to accept this award on behalf of the Stroud Center’s education department, our instrumental STREAM Girls partners, and the generations of female leaders who make my ongoing efforts possible,” says Nix.
STREAM Girls is an outdoor watershed education experience that combines science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) with recreational fly-fishing to empower today’s girls* to become tomorrow’s leaders. Non-formal participants, primarily middle school Girl Scouts, forge lasting connections with their backyard watersheds while exploring freshwater habitats, discovering wriggling stream bugs, collecting real data on watershed health, diving into the art of fly-tying, and learning fly-fishing from local anglers. Fingers and fins crossed, girls reel in a live fish.
“The STREAM Girls program reimagines fields historically dominated by men — STEM, fisheries, and the outdoors — with gender-responsive education that centers the voices of women and girls,” says Nix. “These voices have long been protagonists in the narratives of our streams, from Harriet Tubman’s masterful river crossings to escort enslaved peoples to freedom to Carrie Frost’s fly-tying entrepreneurship to open doorways for female business owners. STREAM Girls simply illuminates this storied history, while also amplifying the stories of new female trailblazers and creating urgent pathways for their equal and active participation in STREAM disciplines.”
Since leading the first STREAM Girls program in southeastern Pennsylvania, Nix has partnered with conservation groups like Trout Unlimited, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and the Delaware Valley Women’s Fly Fishing Association to lead the first virtual STREAM Girls programming statewide. May 2022 will mark her fourth STREAM Girls program to date and the Stroud Center’s first in-person STREAM Girls since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The trouter in me is especially giddy about the anatomically correct adipose fin on the wood-burned fish plaque,” shares Nix with a laugh. “I hear VFTU had to request this special, something fellow trout enthusiasts will appreciate.”
*Girls include cis girls, trans girls, gender-non-conforming youth, non-binary youth, and any youth who identifies with the experience of girlhood as part of their unique journey.