The 2022 Trout Unlimited Distinguished Service Award for Leadership will be awarded to Phil Dopson tomorrow night!
Phil Dopson has been instrumental in the growth and success of the largest chapter in TU — the 066 – Guadalupe River Chapter in Texas, now with over 6,000 members and many more supporters.
When Phil was elected treasurer, his predecessor handed him a tackle box of receipts and a small amount of petty cash: the sum total of assets and financial records for the chapter. Phil quickly went to work, establishing bank accounts for the chapter and moving all the financial records to Quickbooks. Regular reviews of financial records became a new standard for GRTU chapter and board meetings, with an emphasis on fiscal integrity and transparency.
With the business side of the house in order, Phil quickly turned his sights to expanding fishing and conservation engagement opportunities for GRTU members and supporters, entirely rebuilding GRTU’s famous lease access program and evolving TroutFest into a nationally recognized event.
Phil is a relationship builder. Through his advocacy, he rebuilt a critical partnership with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA), the state agency that regulates flows critical to the fishery. Phil had long built partnerships with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and has advanced youth education opportunities within the state by overseeing the GRTU and TPWD summer intern program. Through this program, more than a dozen college interns have had the opportunity to work with Texas’ Inland Fisheries Division and pursue their careers in natural resources and fisheries management. Through his friendships, he has inspired generations of TU leaders for the GRTU chapter and beyond.
His nomination affirms, “Phil, being a proud Texan, was very focused on making GRTU the best it could be. But then he attended a TU annual meeting where he listened to a presentation on “One TU”. This elevated his focus beyond the state of Texas, and he began to see the many opportunities to expand the good that we could collectively do.”
As chapter treasurer, Phil oversaw and provided the leadership for GRTU’s Coldwater Outreach Conservation Fund which provides grant funding for numerous habit restoration, native trout re-introduction, and invasive species projects across the country.
Although he may not take credit for it, Phil also created the GRTU Tomorrow Fund designed to support national youth education programs by leveraging GRTU resources with matching funds from other chapters. Where others saw scarcity, Phil saw opportunity. Phil convinced the GRTU board to commit $10,000 a year for 10 years to TU national youth education programs. But, he didn’t stop there. Believing that we are only scratching the surface in what we can do to impact the next generation, he took his leadership on the road, inspiring dozens of other chapters and donors to contribute. Phil’s leadership has made a significant and lasting impact on GRTU, TU and youth education.