Searching for new members: Southwest Anglers look for youthful, fresh faces to lead organization

The Southwest Anglers Association is looking for new members and leadership to revitalize its dwindling ranks of outdoor enthusiasts. On Monday night, around 20 people attended the association's monthly meeting to discuss the group's future. Whil...

Curt Decker
Press Photo by Andrew Brown Curt Decker, the secretary of the Southwest Anglers Association, discusses the future of the club on Monday at the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Dickinson.

The Southwest Anglers Association is looking for new members and leadership to revitalize its dwindling ranks of outdoor enthusiasts.
On Monday night, around 20 people attended the association’s monthly meeting to discuss the group’s future.
While Southwest Anglers has been a part of Dickinson and the surrounding region for decades, promoting fishing and youth initiatives, its membership has shrunk in recent years, leaving only a handful of people to fundraise and organize events like its annual June kids fishing derby.
The reduced membership has caused some of the longtime leaders of the group to consider disbanding the association if new, younger members can’t be convinced to take over.
“We need new blood for the future,” said Curt Decker, the club’s secretary. “But we need people willing to commit to that.”
For the past 15 to 20 years, Decker said the club’s board of directors has rotated amongst half a dozen people.
“It’s run conservatively,” he said. “We are stretching a few people a long way.”
Twenty years ago, Decker said the Southwest Anglers used to fill the Fraternal Order of Eagles’ social hall with 30 or so people. But recently, he said there has been only a handful of people at monthly meetings, even when they book guest speakers.
“Back then, money was the problem, not people,” said Mark Lamprecht, one of the former club presidents.
Decker said the Southwest Anglers is not alone in lacking members and devoted officers. Across North Dakota, he said recreational clubs are suffering from a dearth in young active members.
“The trend is not good,” Decker said. “It’s downhill.”
Decker said the main focus of the club is to educate young anglers and new North Dakota residents.
“That’s what we’re not getting is the younger people,” Decker said.
But while Decker and other long-time members are worn out and ready to either end the association or hand over control to new leadership, several group members have not given up hope that the club can continue to exist.
After a determined advertising and social media campaign, several new members signed up with the club at Monday’s meeting.
Jonathan and Jered Moe were among the new recruits. While the father and son are both avid outdoorsmen and experienced anglers, fishing throughout North Dakota and other states, they had not been part of the group previously.
With the recent influx of people to the region following the oil boom, Decker said the club could have an opportunity to attract some new residents, who may have been active anglers prior to moving to North Dakota.
While the new recruiting effort is encouraging, Decker said those numbers need to transition into committed and active members who are willing to be at every monthly meeting and take over the organization’s financing and planning operations.
“It takes a lot of after work hours,” Decker said.
In order for new members to take over management of the club, Decker said they need to learn how it is managed.
“There is a little bit of a learning curb,” Decker said.
If the club can’t get people to take over the helm, Decker said the club will likely have to shut down.
“We’ve run out of ideas. We’ve run out of personnel. We’ve run out of energy,” Decker said, adding that he would be stepping down in the near future.
Brown is a regional reporter for The Dickinson Press. Contact him at 701-456-1206 and follow him on Twitter at Andy_Ed_Brown.

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