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Rachel Leinweber: Steward of the Earth

10/01/17 at 08:45 AM by Vince Puzick

 

You’d think that since her parents co-own the largest fly fishing shop in the state that Rachel Leinweber grew up loving to fly fish.  Well, you know how kids can be.  Even with all of those fly fishing opportunities at her finger tips when she was young, it took until she was in high school for the bug to really bite. 

 

familyDavid and Becky Leinweber, Rachel’s folks, have been life-long outdoor enthusiasts, from being rafting guides on the Arkansas River in their late teens to shop owners now.  Heading into the mountains as a kid “was just what we did … we went camping,” Rachel says.  When her dad would start fly fishing, Rachel and her twin brother, Jon, didn’t necessarily just jump right in.  “We were sort of bored.”

 

In high school, though, Rachel had some events that changed her enthusiasm for sports.  She had played basketball for many years, but a torn ACL in her Junior year made her consider some other options for how she spent her time.  She had some “outdoorsy redneck-y friends” who took her out shooting. The mountains sort of beckoned.

 

And she picked up her fly rod.  It was inevitable, right? 

 

Growing up as the “shop kid,” she had a lot of influences in the world of fly fishing.  And they were mostly men.  “It was like having a lot of Uncles around.” 

 

It also gave Rachel the first impression of being a guide:  it’s hard work, with long hours in the day.  “I saw the other side of it, the preparation, the work at the end of the trip.”  She didn’t really have an interest in becoming a guide.

 

Over the last few years, since graduating from UCCS with a degree in Business, Rachel has gotten more involved within the outdoor recreation industry.  She manages Pikes Peak Outfitter, next door to Angler’s Covey, and she is currently building that shop into the leading canoe and kayak outfitter in the area. 

 

She has also become more active in her advocacy of public lands and outdoor recreation.  Two years ago, she participated in the Emerging Leader Program offered through SHIFT, an organization focused on the conservation of public lands.  Back in May, she took her conservation efforts to Washington, D.C., to lobby with Conservation Colorado against the repeal of the BLM’s methane rule.  She met with the offices of Michael Bennet and Corey Gardner – and the repeal failed. 

 

 

But there was a budding interest in becoming a guide.  Angler’s Director of Services, Jon Easdon, with whom Rachel had fished for many years, encouraged her to take the guide school offered by Colorado Fly Fishing Guide Academy.  She had known the leaders of that school, Neil Luehring and Robert Younghanz for years, too. 

 

She loved the Academy. “The CFFGA gave me a language to communicate with clients.  It also helped me to grow my confidence” in working with anglers new to the sport. 

 

kissy fishRachel says that she realized, during the Academy, that she really has learned from listening to all the guides that have been in her life and have done this for so long.  “You have to soak in all they know.  They helped me become more confident and more self-assured both in the shop and on the water.”  She gives a little shout-out to Earl Hecker (she may have a bias here, folks, but I’ll let you read between the lines) for helping her grow as an angler and as a guide. 

 

“It took guiding to make me realize I want to guide!” 

 

Rachel says that the experience of watching a new angler hook up and land a fish is a pretty cool thing. “When they know that they did that” – hook, play, and get the fish to the net – “it’s a great feeling.” 

 

Rachel also grew up in a Christian home and that foundation is seen in her own connection with nature.  She said that she stopped going to church in high school because, well, “the Christian kids weren’t the cool kids.”  But she found her place again in church and has become a mentor and confidant for high school girls there.  In 2012-2013, she lived and worked in Juneau, Alaska and helped older teens there who were struggling to become independent, thriving adults. 

 

All of this – her Christianity, her participation in SHIFT, her advocacy for public lands --  weaves together in Rachel’s life as being a good steward of the Earth.

 

“I think that people find their connection to God in different ways.  Some do through music, or reading and writing, or in other people.  My connection comes through nature and through people.” 

 

When I asked Rachel what sort of experience she wants her clients to have on their trips, she pauses for a moment.  “I want to personalize the experience for them.  I want to help create a memory, a joy, for them.”  Of course, she says, fly fishing and getting to the outdoors lets people get a break from their 9-5 and get “their head space right.”  But it is the connection to the outdoors she wants them to experience most.  In essence, a guide can be that person who connects another to nature. 

 

When I asked Rachel where she sees herself in 3-5 year, she struggles to find an answer.  “I think I am in a quarter-life crisis, if there’s such a thing!”  She laughs and says “I’m still finding my passion.  I know it’s around fishing, and outdoors, and people.  I’m just not sure how that’ll unfold.”

 

One thing’s for certain:  it will unfold in a way that has a positive impact on the people and the world around her. 

 

Want to schedule a trip with Rachel?  Check out our menu of guided trips, or swing by Angler’s Covey or Pikes Peak Outfitters.  You can also follow her on Instagram @rmleinweber.

 

 

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