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Auburn, Alabama Project
Project Lead Mentor: Jacob Vincent
Project Co-Lead Mentor: Kate Watson
Project location: Auburn, Alabama
Year project founded: 2021
Mentors on this team: 25
Children mentored to date: 9
Children to be mentored in 2024: 16
Local foster care partners: Currently searching for foster care partners.
Local companies that support this project: Watson Brothers Patio and Hearth and East Alabama Fly Fishing
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Auburn, Alabama Project
JAKE VINCENT, LEAD MENTOR
Jake grew up in rural northwest Illinois, where his father instilled in him a lifelong love for the outdoors, and fishing. The summers of his youth were filled with wading creeks for smallmouth bass. After high school Jake joined the army, where he worked primarily in logistics before an injury ended this military career. After returning home he studied fisheries biology at Western Illinois University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology. Jake now lives in Alabama and works at Auburn University while simultaneously working on his MBA. He really appreciates Alabama’s aquatic diversity and while not at work he is usually fishing.
KATE WATSON, CO-LEAD MENTOR
As a former foster parent and adoptive mom, Kate is THRILLED that the Mayfly Project is now represented in Alabama! WHOOO HOOO!!!!
Originally from Auburn, OH, Kate now lives in Auburn, AL with her husband, two young sons, and 4-legged loves. Although she does not get on the water to fish nearly as often as she would like, she has a deep understanding of the grounding and healing benefits of fly fishing. This understanding is based on her personal experiences on the water and seeing it change lives through other fly-fishing centered non-profits she loves like Casting for Recovery, where she serves on the National Board and as a longtime volunteer, and Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.
For Kate, being on or in or even just near the water brings her a sense of calm and serenity. Once she has a rod in her hand it is as if everything else melts away and it is time for her to get lost in the rhythm of casting and enjoying her surroundings, as fish live in beautiful places! While catching a fish is always nice, Kate celebrates every catch even if it is a leaf, stick, or rock – just grateful for being able to be there.
ROWELL GUEVARRA, MENTOR
Smiths Station, Alabama
Rowell was raised in California and is an Army Veteran who retired in Alabama after 21 years of service. Through his time in the Army, he developed a strong connection to the outdoors. Rowell loves spending time with his wife LaRee’ and their three children especially sharing time fishing, hunting, hiking and camping. Rowell has fished most his life but was recently introduced to fly fishing through Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. He volunteers running their social media and assists in organizing their events. The discovery of the healing properties and serenity that fly fishing offers has changed his life. After retiring from the military, Rowell is excited to continue to serve as a mentor in the Alabama Mayfly Project!
MATT LEWIS, MENTOR
Matthew Lewis grew up in rural south Alabama hunting and fishing. He is an avid fly fisher and outdoorsman. Matt is a PhD candidate at Auburn University specializing in conservation genetics of fisheries. Matt developed an affinity for redeye bass, or “Alabama brook trout” as they called due to the fact they are found in small streams and rarely grow larger than twelve inches. He has written several articles, and is the author of the book, Fly Fishing for Redeye Bass: An Adventure Across Southern Waters. He co-founded a program in 2018 called Redeye Bass Slam, which challenges fly fishers to catch all seven species of redeye bass in a year to help draw attention to the fish.
JASON COLE, MENTOR
Born on the banks of the Coosa River in Central Alabama, fishing was instantly a large portion of Jason’s life. His earliest fishing memories are with both of his grandads and his father trying to fool the quarry of this diverse river system. As he grew so did his love for fishing and the outdoors, along with the need for chasing that next fish. Now a foster parent himself, Jason values the lessons learned from being a steward of the outdoors and fly fishing. His new aspirations are to share this rewarding experience with as many people as he can. “I cannot think of a better investment for our future, with my knowledge and time, than to help these children find the peace and tranquility of wondering what the next pool holds!”
SARAH KNIGHT, MENTOR
Sarah was raised way down yonder on the Chattahoochee in Columbus, GA. She was lucky to have 2 grandfathers who loved to fish. One took her to the lakes and mountains and taught her to fish on a cane pole with a bucket of worms. The other loved the beach and put a spin rod in her hands. It wasn’t until Sarah started spending her summers off from teaching in Jackson Hole, WY when a close friend showed her a fly rod and she was hooked. She eventually moved out west permanently and her passion for fly fishing grew. Since moving back to the south, Sarah wanted to put her two passions together: fly fishing and teaching. She is grateful for this opportunity and looks forward to meeting some great kids and teaching them all about fly fishing.
JUSTIN WILSON, MENTOR
Growing up, I was lucky to live on the upper reaches of the Coosa River. As a youngster, I fished the small tribs and large creeks that flowed into the Coosa near my childhood home. The magnetic pull on my soul of those strong river fish never let me go. I had the opportunity to move to Louisiana and pursue a career in wildlife biology. I fished both fresh and saltwater while living in Louisiana and was fortunate enough to fish the fabled Chandeleur and Breton Islands before moving eastward.
After leaving Louisiana, I had the good fortune of landing in Florida along the area of the Gulf Coast known as the Forgotten Coast. It was here I honed my guiding skills in the inshore waters by foot, and skiff for redfish, trout, tarpon, and sharks. Guiding clients as I had when I was in college on the rivers of my home state. And this evolved into the pursuit of chasing all species I could find using a fly rod.
FELIPE PETERS, MENTOR
Fort Mitchell, Alabama
Felipe Peters is originally from Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua, Mexico but later moved to West Texas. The desire to join the military and serve his country was something he was determined to do since he was young. After high school, Felipe worked for Ford Motor company and American Honda Motorcycles before joining the United States Army in 2004 and serving until 2019.
In 2018, he joined Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing and it has meant a lot to Felipe. It has given him the opportunity to connect with and meet new friends who share the same passion as he does and learn a great deal from the experts that volunteer for PHWFF Auburn. Felipe also started The Driving Loaded Podcast (2019) with a fellow combat veteran to defeat the ever-increasing number of suicides by servicemembers and first responders. The most important thing to me are our kids, they need our leadership and mentorship. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to mentor kids on something I really enjoy.
CONNOR KOCH, MENTOR
Ever since childhood, I have always felt at home on the water. Afternoons fishing with my grandfather developed into an insatiable desire to learn, experience, and discover all things fly fishing. I am excited for the opportunity to teach, encourage and learn from the position of a Mayfly Project mentor. When not on the water, Connor is pursuing a career in the medical field.
MARY BETH MEEKS, MENTOR
Mary Beth grew up in Jasper, Alabama fishing with a cane pole and Catawba worms. She attended Auburn University where she spent a lot of her time on the Coosa River kayaking. After graduating from Auburn, she moved to Chelsea with her husband and began teaching third grade. This is about the same time her love of fly fishing began and she’s so excited to be combining the two. She still lives in Chelsea and when she’s not raising three girls with her husband, she’s creating block prints of fish and flowers. Mary Beth also works closely with the Riverkeepers and the Native Fish Coalition to create pieces that bring attention to certain species and helps in their conservation.
JAKE CONNELL, MENTOR
I am from just north of Atlanta, GA and I now go to college at Auburn university as a freshman. I am studying marketing and am looking to get a job in the fishing industry when I graduate! I have been fly fishing for about 5 years now, and I have been teaching myself through YouTube videos and books about fly fishing. My family takes a trip out to Montana every summer and I get the chance to fish pretty much every day on some great local rivers for big brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout. I love fly fishing and everything about it and I am really excited to help teach some kids a great new hobby and passion!
CASEY CAMPBELL, MENTOR
Casey is native of Birmingham, Alabama and fell in love with all things outdoors while spending 2 summers in northern California as a whitewater river guide. It was during this time he learned the healing and restorative powers of being on the water. His first experience with fly fishing (2011) was in Big Sky, Montana where he was immediately hooked. As a father of two, Casey understands the value of getting children outside to experience the world around them. Casey and his son have been fishing side by side for many years and it’s on these many fishing/camping trips that he has seen his relationship with his son deepen. He is looking forward to sharing his love of the outdoors and fly fishing with another generation.
CHRISTOPHER “MURPH” MURPHY, MENTOR
When asked I will say that I am from Texas- but the truth is that I lived in several states before I ever resided Texas. I’m lucky to have a family that taught me to fish at an early age- first in the Rocky Mountains and then along the Texas Coast. After attending Texas State, I joined the Army, which brought me to Georgia and the banks of the Chattahoochee where I now live with my wife and son. I was introduced to fly fishing through various veteran’s outreach groups and quickly learned the physical, spiritual, and psychological benefits of fly fishing and angling. I was once asked what fly fishing meant to me and this was the best, I could explain it: “My troubles flow downstream with the water- the stress, the physical and mental ache, the things there are no words for- they all drift away. It is renewal and creates a resiliency in me that few other things can. it is about the people, the places, the discoveries and sometimes the fish too…” It is this world that I hope to share with others- and in turn hope they see it the way that I do.
LAURA “SCOUT” DAVIS, MENTOR
My name is Laura but everyone calls me Scout. I am from Vienna, GA, but I am currently a senior at Auburn University studying finance. In my free time, I love spending time outdoors. I am passionate about fly fishing, riding horses, and playing tennis. I have also recently learned how to tie flies. My dad got me into fly fishing when I was about 12, and I have loved it ever since. I caught my first trout on the Tuckaseegee River in North Carolina on a fly rod and I have been hooked to this day.
DREW MORGAN, MENTOR
Drew’s passion for using fly rods to chase warm water species, especially bass, began when fishing the creeks and rivers of South Alabama as a kid. Growing up he was always playing and fishing in creeks…and now does the same in the East/Central region of Alabama.
When he moved to Auburn, Alabama for school, he began to discover the incredible bass fisheries in the piedmont regions of Alabama. After college he started teaching high school and conveniently had summer vacation to spend fishing the region. After years of fishing, East Alabama Fly Fishing was born out of a desire to help others learn to fly fish for bass, as well as network with other anglers who enjoy using fly rods.
Drew’s guiding expertise includes the Tallapoosa River and it’s tributaries out of a drift boat. His favorite species to fish for is the venerable Redeye Bass.
DAVE WEAKLEY, MENTOR
Dave grew up exploring the creeks of southeast Alabama. This is where his love of fishing first took root. Once he discovered fly fishing, a passion turned into an obsession. After a fishing trip to Alaska, he developed a love of wild native fish. Since then he has dedicated much of his time to exporting the back country streams of Alabama searching out native warm water species. His favorite fish to target is the redeye bass.
GEORGE CONSTANTINE, MENTOR
George was born and raised in Birmingham, AL and still calls the area home to this day. He grew up fishing bass and bream in local ponds and streams and eventually fell into the world of fly fishing around 2007. From there, his passion for the sport accelerated and took him to multiple international locations over the last 15 years.
Closer to home, Geroge frequents the Louisiana coast in search of redfish in the winter and chases tarpon throughout Florida in the warmer months when he’s not wading through a redeye stream in his home state. He and his longtime friend Ben, co-founded Dorsal Outdoors which has shot and produced several films that have ended up in the major fly fishing film tours over the last few years. George is thrilled to join the Mayfly team in 2023!
DANIEL HENDERSON, MENTOR
Daniel currently lives in the Auburn/Opelika area where he and his wife, Olivia are both practicing dentists. He was born and raised in Andalusia, AL where his father and grandfather instilled in him a love for all things outdoors. After high school, Daniel attended Auburn University before moving to Birmingham for graduate school. Just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a friend introduced Daniel to fly fishing. Fly fishing quickly began to occupy most of his free time and weekends.
During the next two years, he would spend most of his free time exploring the waters of north and central Alabama with a fly rod in hand. More recently, most of his efforts have been concentrated on exploring the waters in and around east Alabama and all the fishing opportunities the area has to offer. Daniel is thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce more people to fly fishing and mentor the next generation of young men and women.
ROBIN SIMMS, MENTOR
Robin grew up in a family of avid anglers and boatmen. As a kid she would spend several weekends on the waters of the Tallapoosa and the Chattahoochee Rivers examining fish her parents caught or exploring the woods and shorelines. Robin’s love of adventure and water led her out West for about 14 years to Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Canada with various work opportunities. She started off as a rafting guide on the Arkansas River in CO and eventually worked my way up to the Alaskan rivers around Haines and Skagway. In that mix, Robin worked several season with Washington DF&W in the Columbia River basin on wild Steelhead studies and Alaska DF&G in a remote field camp for a Salmon telemetry project on the Susitna River.
After having her little girl, Ruby, she spent her final 2 years out west exploring the Canadian Rockies and rivers with her and finishing her Business degree in Calgary, Alberta Canada.
They made a big move back to the south to be close to family and she was Introduced to PHWFF by fellow rafting and fishing guide Drew Morgan with East Alabama Fly Fishing. Robin’s sister and her teamed up with Drew in 2017 to screenprint Bass Bash apparel to benefit PHWFF and help raise awareness to the amazing fishing and recreational opportunities on the Tallapoosa River. She has been a volunteer for guiding a raft of PHWFF veterans down the river and screen printing event t shirts and hats each year since.
Most of her time is now spent as a Corporate Organizational Development Manager for a HR and Staffing Firm. She fills in the the free moments as a Girl Scout troop leader nurturing kids love of outdoor adventures and nature with rafting trips and campouts. Robin’s favorite place to be has made a full circle in life back to the Tallapoosa River and the shores of Lake Martin with her little family Jason, Ruby, and Nova.”
AVERY AINSWORTH, MENTOR
As a father of 3 in Montgomery, Al I’m always searching for ways to get my family outside and off devices (and myself). Being around the water is one of the best ways I have found to keep the devices out of their hands. Over the past year, we have all fallen in love with fly fishing. Being around the water has a calming and relaxing effect on not just me but my whole family. I helped start the Girls on the Run program for Central Alabama and have always seen an avenue to teach young people through activities outdoors. I look forward to using my new passion for fly fishing to help others.
JESSICAN GILPIN, MENTOR
Dr. Jess fished with her father when she was a young girl growing up in New York. She always enjoyed the great outdoors and connecting with nature. This connection led her to a bachelors degree in biology from Fairfield University and then a doctoral degree in marine biology from Auburn University (AU). She also discovered a passion for informal STEM education, which led to her current position as the Assistant Director of the AU COSAM STEM Outreach Center.
Dr. Jess was introduced to fly fishing by her husband who she met at AU. She instantly fell in love with the calming rhythm of casting and thrill of finding fish havens. She is thrilled to be a mentor with the Auburn Mayfly Project and to share her passion for the natural world!
DUSTIN MCKEE, MENTOR
Raised in Southwest Missouri, Dustin grew up spending every moment possible in nature. His grandfather would take him hunting and fishing and taught him the art of cutting firewood, which all led to a great respect and love of the outdoors. This dedication to the natural world led Dustin to get a bachelor’s degree in marine biology and a master’s degree in fisheries biology both from Auburn University. During his master’s research he connected with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, which is geared toward getting veterans out on the water. An Army veteran himself, he has grown to love fly fishing and is currently the casting instructor for the Auburn program. He has even showed his beautiful wife, Dr. Jess, the joy of fly fishing.
CARLOS HERNANDEZ, MENTOR
I have been fishing for at least 15 years. I got my start in fishing in the waters at Corpus Christi, TX. Since then I have fished in freshwater and saltwater for various species. I recently got into fly fishing about 2 years ago and learned how to cast, build flies, and build rods. I am currently building various different rods for different purposes. I have been interested in helping those in the foster system rather it is through volunteering or fostering. A couple of years ago I did foster 3 children but they just ended up back in the system.
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Auburn, Alabama Project
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