Blog Post - Jun 11, 2021

More Than a Fishing Trip

What started as saying “yes” to a fishing trip quickly became a passion that expanded beyond what Evan ever imagined.

Evan, a Production Specialist at Dairyland, is a Wisconsin native who knew from an early age that he wanted to serve in the military. At 18 he enlisted in the United States National Guard and was later deployed to Iraq. Injuries eventually brought him home, where he found new opportunities both professionally and personally.

Life after duty is not always easy among the veteran community. In the video below Evan shares how the tragic loss of one of his best friends became the wakeup call he needed.


Supporting Fellow Veterans

Hoping to encourage and support his fellow veterans, Evan began searching for and sharing Facebook posts with veteran-specific opportunities. One post in particular caught Evan’s eye—a fishing trip through an organization called Fishing with Vets—and he applied immediately for the small group outing.

Evan has always been passionate about fishing, and his earliest memories include time spent fishing on the area lakes. After returning from Iraq, he again picked up his hobby – even taking it to a new level by starting a business creating and selling striking one-of-a-kind fishing rods (check them out here).

On those Minnesota waters during his initial Fishing with Vets trip, Evan met other veterans – some his own age, and others who could speak firsthand of experiences serving in Vietnam and the lasting impact it had on them. It was a community he instantly felt welcomed into, leading to friendships that still exist today. That first fishing trip led to several others. For those that he could not attend himself, Evan would donate a custom fishing rod – a prize to the veteran who caught the biggest fish of the week.

      

As an employee of Dairyland, Evan was able to use his company-paid volunteering time to build the rods that he donated, even involving his coworkers who were increasingly interested in the beautiful pieces and creative approach to service. Evan didn’t stop there, his dedication to Fishing with Vets prompted the organization to ask if he would help them expand into Wisconsin by leading his own trip.

This past April he did exactly that, inviting a small group of local veterans and their guests on an unforgettable weekend. He describes his experience here:

Use Your Talents to Make a Difference

Evan has found the contribution that fits with who he is, the experiences that have shaped him, and the skills he uniquely has to offer. “I have a lot of friends who can do a lot more for others than I can,” he says. “But I have fishing, so that’s what I’ve focused on. I can’t help you frame a room or change the transmission on your car, but I can probably put a fish on the end of your line.” And that is exactly what it means to Live Engaged: to do what you can with what you have.

When asked what he would say to someone still in search of what they can do to make a positive difference, Evan again says it best:

Are you inspired by Evan’s story? Send him a note at LiveEngaged@dairyland.com. To learn more or make a donation to Fishing with Vets, visit fishingwithvets.com.