Co-founder – Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Kaitlin Barnhart is the Co-Founder of The Mayfly Project. She joined Jess and Laura Westbrook in 2016, to help bring TMP to the national level and establish a universal program to support children in foster care across the country.
Kaitlin grew up fishing with her grandparents and camping with her family in Northern California and Northern Idaho. She spent her time in college at Pacific Lutheran University, playing volleyball and working for Child Protective Services and Juvenile Detention of Tacoma, WA. She worked for the Panhandle Forrest Service, conducting stream surveys for bull trout habitat restoration projects during the summers.
After she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, Kaitlin headed to Alaska to work at a sportfishing lodge and fell in love with fly fishing. During this time, she learned how to use fly fishing specifically to decompress from a stressful year working with troubled youth in Tacoma.
Her dream quickly developed in 2004, of using fly fishing as a tool to support youth in foster care in healing from trauma, finding mental rest, and connecting to nature. So when she began her career in the mental health field, she always found opportunities to take youth fly fishing or to connect with the outdoors, with the long-term goal of eventually starting a non-profit to support her ideas.
Once Kaitlin gained her bearings after building her family with her husband in North Idaho, Kaitlin started to take foster children fishing more regularly and eventually connected with Jess of TMP in Arkansas. After Kaitlin and Jess started talking about the similar ways they were using fly fishing to mentor children in foster care, they decided to partner up and develop the national TMP program.
Beyond The Mayfly Project, Kaitlin is a freelance writer, published in several fly fishing publications, and enjoys time fishing year-round with her family in Idaho. She dedicates her success to her mother, Stacey Calvert, who taught her how to ‘hold space’ for those who need love and support most.