Hard work and determination from dedicated Emergent BioSolutions Inc. (EBSI) employees helped Rivers of Recovery launch our first Michigan fly fishing trip for regional veterans.
Six Michigan-area vets experienced the natural beauty of the Pere Marquette River in mid-May. The trip culminated more than a year’s work by Jason Smagacz, EBSI manager of upstream processing and fly-fishing enthusiast.
A long-time supporter of Rivers of Recovery, EBSI kicked off the Michigan trip with a speech from Congressman John Moolenaar at the company’s Lansing facility, along with Amy Simon, RoR executive director, and Jose Jauregui, RoR director of guiding operations. Then the fishing trip began in Michigan’s Manistee National Forest.
More than Fishing
Jason was inspired to organize the trip by his own experiences as an avid outdoorsman. It gave him a chance to act on lessons learned from his grandfathers, both of whom were military veterans.
“I find a lot of peace and joy and relaxation while I’m in the river,” Jason said. “It’s about catching a fish, but it’s not. It’s much more.”
Jason and his fellow fly fishing EBSI coworkers—Tom Grass and Brandon McGraw—want to share their love of the sport. They believe the experience is particularly meaningful for veterans who are dealing with the challenges of post-military life.
“When they come back from deployment, sometimes they are kind of lost,” Jason said. “They may have lost friends and family members—not just from war but also people at home who have gone their separate ways. Rivers of Recovery gives them a chance to reconnect and be with people who understand.”
Successful Michigan Trip
Mother Nature contributed with fabulous weather and an epic bug hatch, plus a surprise visit from a bat who wanted to hang out in the lodge.
The success of this trip inspired Jason and his coworkers to keep the momentum going.
“I want to make this an annual trip,” Jason said. “We have a lot of vets who work here at EBSI. It makes sense to get them involved. I’m proud of my company for doing the right thing too. We’re making a difference.”
Special thanks to the following Emergent BioSolutions employees for their hard work:
- Jason Smagacz
- Tom Grass
- Brandon McGraw
- Jill Hamaker
- Brett Linton
- Ashley Bratich