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The State Council, the Derby, and Us by Bob Randall

When I first joined this club, I kept hearing about the State Council and the Derby.  I didn’t really understand what they were.  Since then, I have attended and participated in a number of the State Council meetings, I think I finally understand how we fit into this.   Let me explain.

First, you need to understand that MTFA-Springfield is not a totally independent club.  We have different levels of affiliation with and commitment to other groups, the Conservation Federation of Missouri, and the MTFA-State Council.  It is through the State Council that all MTFA chapters affiliate with the CFM.  The CFM is the premier conservation organization in the State of Missouri and MTFA not only is in line with their philosophy, it is an outcome of that movement.  Our connection with the MTFA-State Council is the highest level of our affiliation and commitment.  It is under this organization that we get our chapter name, our non-profit status through registration with the MO Secretary of State, our chapter insurance, and the right to operate our club as MTFA-Springfield.  Without the umbrella of the MTFA-State Council, we would be a different club.  We could be the Springfield Trout Club or the Ozarks Fly Tiers Club.  Let your imagination run wild and pick almost any name, but the one name we couldn’t use is “MTFA-Springfield”.  Our existential identity runs through the State Council and its by-laws.  Get it?  We need them.  As an equal, and fully functioning MTFA chapter we have representation at State Council business meetings.

The State Council collects dues from all four chapters and uses that money primarily to pay for our liability insurance, our CFM membership, and maintain the MTFA Legacy Memorial at Bennett Spring State Park.  On Saturday of the annual get together, we will come to this memorial rock to place the names of members who have passed away during the year to remember our fishing friends. Beyond collecting dues, the State Council also has a fund raiser once a year.  We call that fund raiser “the Derby”.  It is a kind of trout fishing tournament where people can win prizes and it’s held at Bennett Spring State Park.  The ideas behind State Council funds are to hold kids fishing days, conservation events, etc. and to have a cushion in case one of the chapters has a financial crisis as happened back about 1970.  That fund has a projected cap which, when reached, would require any excess profit to be returned to the chapters.  They have not reached that cap, yet.

On the same weekend as the fund raiser, we have an all-chapter social event.  I understand that in the “old days” they used to have a dress-up event with black ties, long dresses, and dancing. I’m glad we quit that, but it makes sense to me that all of the chapters should occasionally get together for fun, a picnic, fishing, and inter-chapter business.  Unfortunately, today’s social event is unofficially referred to as “the Derby”.  That’s a problem because many of our members conflate the two events.  They aren’t interested in tournament fishing and therefore don’t participate in the social experience.  Some of us don’t seem to understand the difference between the Derby and the Derby.  Let’s think of them separately as the “State Council Fund Raiser” and the “MTFA All-Chapter Picnic”.

This year, the Springfield Chapter is in charge of organizing both sides of the fund raiser and the social event.  I’m committed to helping fry fish on Saturday afternoon for the picnic lunch.  On Sunday, we have a raffle for any of the prizes left over from the “fund raising derby”.  I’ll be at both “Derbies” this May but you won’t find me wading into the crowd to catch a tagged fish.  I’ll pay my entry fee and consider it a donation to a cause I believe in.  Then when the whistle blows, I’ll be in a quiet place on the stream far from the stocking areas containing tagged trout because that’s how I like to fish.  Later, I’ll enjoy the camaraderie that the social event provides.