What do empty nesters do to make a meaningful impact in their next stage of life? In 1975, Ruth Lynn gave her husband, Walter Lynn, Sr., a membership in the Izaak Walton League. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Over three decades, Walter and Ruth became very involved with the Izaak Walton League — Walter as a national director and president of the Illinois Division and Ruth as the division’s newsletter editor. Perhaps their greatest contribution, however, was sharing their passion for the League with their son, Walter Lynn, Jr., and eventually his two children, Chris and Abby.
Summer vacations each year revolved around the League’s national convention so Chris and Abby could attend Youth Convention while their grandparents were involved with the business of the League. Chris even served as president of the national youth convention chapter for a year. "Because of the League and opportunities for Chris to see and experience the outdoors, he remains an avid conservationist today," says Walter Lynn, Jr. "League trips, especially in Montana and seeing projects such as the Blackfoot Challenge, are events Chris still talks about today. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where he loves to kayak, and he has taken a keen interest in the local food movement. Abby lives in Columbus, Ohio, and is an avid camper, follows local food issues, and stays current about agriculture issues in the Midwest."
It wasn’t until he became an empty nester himself that Walter Lynn, Jr. joined the Izaak Walton League. In addition to providing generous financial support, Walter serves the League as national treasurer and a member of the Executive Board. One aspect of the League he dearly values is the opportunity to engage with fellow Ikes at the national convention and other League events. "League members sharing insights and experiences with each other are a reason I love the League," he says. "The knowledge level of League members is over-the-top." He also enjoys seeing the League "in action" and highly respects the resolutions process and policy structure of the organization — how it offers members the opportunity to get involved and share their views.
Although all aspects of the League’s mission speak to this "former farm kid," conservation efforts around soil and water are particularly meaningful to him. "Good soil creates better water, nutrient-dense food, and better air quality. Thinking holistically about soil is a big piece of environmental health and what we are involved in. Soil health is a really big thing we need to understand and educate people about."
Walter is proud of how League chapters address soil nutrient and sediment issues at the local level, and he sees the League’s national advocacy on these issues to be of the utmost importance. That’s why he makes a donation to the League each year. "My support of the League makes a big difference on what our impact can be," Walter says. "I am proud of the Farm Bill advocacy work we have accomplished, especially around conservation compliance and crop insurance. I also value programs to get kids outside — they are the future of this organization and of conservation."
Simply put, he says, "Supporting the League is the right thing to do."