Teaching our youth is extremely important to me. Too many of our youth today have no direction. I hear so often that the majority of youth today is disrespectful, unappreciative, selfish, unresourceful, unethical, etc. I completely agree with them. But the next part is where the difference of opinion usually comes in. I casually say, and the majority of the blame is on us as parents. Often, that doesn’t go over so well. But that’s my opinion and I won’t change.
So where does it start? For me, it started when I held Emma Jo for the first time. From that moment, I realized that God entrusted me to raise her right by Him. So I take the biggest responsibility I’ll ever have very seriously. The smallest of things I do will have a direct impact on the woman she grows to be. It starts with the smallest of things.
There are several things Lisa and I are personally adamant about at this stage in Emerson’s life. They are showing her our faith in God, manners, love of the outdoors, and teaching her that there’s nothing wrong with those who are different. Obviously, I am different. I know this will be hard for her as other kids will surely tease her about my arm. I hate that she’ll have to go through that. But what would kill me would be if she were one of those that teased. So we are teaching her there’s nothing wrong with people being different.
So recently, while reading the November/December issue of American Angler, I found an article Phil Monahan did on a great resource for teaching her about being different in a way that is fun for both of us. And it actually teaches about fly fishing and wildlife conservation in the process! It’s a book by Kirk Werner called Olive The Woolly Bugger. I started smiling immediately.
This book is so much more than a picture book. Although the artwork (courtesy of the author) is great, it’s the lessons that I was most impressed with. I started to write out important things the book taught, but soon realized I had given away way too much of the book. So I’ll keep this short. The story starts out with the unsure of herself woolly bugger named Olive. On the first day at Camp Tightloops, she gets teased by the dry flies for being different. She continues to get teased throughout the early stages of the amp. The uppity dry flies are just out of line. Olive and the others learned why each fly is important, what they imitate, and how they’re used. They also learned all about rods, reels, float line, leaders, tippet, and even de-barbing themselves. They learned how each of them were to be cast and learned how to present themselves in the water. Each time Olive was teased, she kept positive with the help of her uplifting friends Gilbert the Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear and Polly the Partridge and Orange. After Mr. Muddler Minnow stepped in and took up for her, the other flies began to treat the Olive nicely. He showed the students that there was nothing wrong with being different. After all, he was a “different” streamer just like Olive. In the end, she graduated and made it into The Fly Box because she never gave up.
I cannot wait to read the other two Olive adventures in this three book series. In the second book, Olive and the Big Stream, Olive learns the importance of catch and release with wild trout. And in Olive Goes for a Wild Ride, children learn the importance of a clean river for wildlife. Again, great lessons in these books! He also does school visits that PTSA’s often provide the funding for. To learn more, click here.
There’s more than just the book. He also took the time to make some of the artwork available for download on his website too. I downloaded two and Emma Jo loved colorin’ the fizz-she.
She wouldn’t look up until I said, “You wanna go fishin?”
I wanted to know more, as y’all have probably noticed from my other posts, so I asked Kirk some questions…
- So the number one question I feel the need to ask is where is the best place would be to buy the book?
People can purchase the book any number of places. Hopefully their local fly shop carries the books—if they don’t, ask for them. They can order the books through the distributor where they order other fly fishing books. Online, I like to send people to Angling Bookstore– they’ve been a big supporter of Olive for several years.
- There’s also a link to an app called Chuckin’ Bugs 101 and one of your book too. Can you describe the apps for us?
Chuckin’ Bugs 101 is a free, standalone app that I designed and had developed at the same time I designed the Olive the Woolly Bugger app. It’s a simple yet challenging little game where users help Lefty Crayfish toss bugs to hungry trout. It’s easy to advance from one level to the next, but it’s a real challenge to get a perfect score. I hope one day to build out a much more robust game that builds on Chuckin’ Bugs 101 with many more levels and such. The Olive app was designed to bring Olive to the digital marketplace in hopes of attracting new readers to the book series. The app consists of a story (a combination of the first two books) with many features such as animations, interactive pop-up screens to enhance the learning experience, as well as two modes for reading. There’s a “read by yourself” mode and a fully narrated mode for younger kids who cannot yet read. When customers pay the full price of a whipping $1.99 for the Olive app, Chuckin’ Bugs is included in that app. There’s also a free Olive the Woolly Bugger Lite app which is a scaled down version of the full app. All apps are for iPad only.
- What things are in motion for the future with the Olive name? On your website, there’s a link to a very nice kid’s fly box as well as nippers, both with a really cool design. I see they’re made by Montana Fly Co. Do you anticipate future merchandise like this? Is the 4 wt. rod/reel available yet?
The Olive rod, originally planned to for release by Christmas 2013, got pushed out a few months. I’m hoping that it will be available in late Spring. Unfortunately I have no control over that—the manufacturer and their suppliers are in charge. When it hits the market I think it’ll be very popular—it’s going to be a solid 4 weight rod—not a toy. I’d love to license the Olive brand to other manufacturers of clothing for kids, but have no immediate plans in the works. I’m also working with a very talented screenwriter to develop a script for a feature length animated film starring Olive, and Clark (from book #3). It’s a wonderful story that will appeal to a broad audience. Once the script is completed, the hard part begins: finding a production company willing to invest millions of dollars in the project. My wife calls me a dreamer, so why not dream big? Stay tuned.
(Kirk gave me these stickers, bookmarks, and the fly box to give away for a Facebook contest I suggested to spread the word)
- You mentioned in your American Angler interview that your father’s friend Lloyd Lewis got you and your brother into fly fishing. How do you feel that spending time with a male figure learning how to be self-sufficient helped you as you got older?
I’m grateful to Lloyd Lewis for introducing me to fly fishing when I was young. As a boy I already like to run around the woods and do all the things that kids used to do all the time (and do less of nowadays). It was a much simpler time and there was more emphasis on outdoor recreation. I was very active in the Boy Scouts growing up, so I learned a lot of great outdoor skills as well as life skills that have aided me all along. In addition to many influential male figures growing up, including my dad, my mother was a very unique lady and influenced me in many ways that mothers don’t typically influence their kids. She was a tomboy growing up and remained very much that way all through her life. She could build just about anything and was very mechanical. She single handedly kept our fleet of Corvair autos running and worked alongside of me when I had to drop the engine out of my car. I could not have done it without her! She was also very creative and I think I owe that part of me to her as well. It’s not that my dad wasn’t involved, because he was. But my mom was the “handy-man” around our house. She really prepared me to be self-reliant and independent. My dad taught me the value of frugality.
By the way, I thought it was really cool how his mother influenced him in a way we don’t always see.
- So what are your children’s names? Ages? Do they like the books? Are they active in the outdoors?
I have two kids. My daughter, Taylor is nearly 22; my son Nik is 20. Nik is my best fishing buddy and outfishes me all the time. He loves to hunt as well, and generally thrives on being outdoors. My daughter never caught the fishing bug, but I haven’t given up on her yet. She’ll be an elementary teacher in the near future and I plan to help her introduce Olive to her class and hopefully bring some outdoor education to her class as well, along the lines of Trout Unlimited’s Trout in the Classroom. She may get tired of me trying to help her plan extracurricular activities in her classroom.
I think it’s neat how he can help teach his daughter’s students the lessons found in the books.
- What is the most rewarding single event you’ve experienced from all this?
It’s hard to pick a single event that has brought me the greatest reward since embarking on the journey as author of Olive. Each time I’ve done a book signing or a school visit, I’m always rewarded when a little kid’s face lights up with excitement when they tell me about a fish they caught. And when kids who’ve never fished before in their lives tell me that they love the stories of Olive, that reminds of the reason I did this.
- How do you want people to reach out to you for questions?
People can reach me here.
- Last question Kirk… Is there anything else you can think of that you’d like to share with the readers?
Thank you for the opportunity to bring Olive to your readers. The books have been published for a few years now, and while many have been introduced to the books, spreading the word is critical for the future of Olive. Just as there’s a lot more to fly fishing than catching fish, there’s a lot more to Olive than just fly fishing. Olive has a message for everyone that goes well beyond the edge of a stream or lake. I’ll not rest until Olive is a household name!
I really hope y’all parents buy these inexpensive books at the very least. If we don’t support stuff like this, it will fade out with the other things our society has forgotten about. This is a great thing and like Kirk said, it teaches our children great lessons that go beyond fly fishin’. And don’t let not having children keep your from supporting. Spread the word. That’s how these things work. We need to spend quality time outdoors with our children, not in front of tv’s and game consoles. We need to teach them to be self-sufficient and allow them to enjoy our beautiful world. We need to instill the good stuff into our children while they’re still sponges and molding into their future selves. It all starts with simple things like reading them a book based on values.