The raft holding three fishermen moved rapidly through the surging waters of the Yellowstone River on this sunny, blue-sky July 4th holiday. When storm clouds rolled over the surrounding mountains, the men took a break from fishing only long enough to let the lightning pass before returning to the river.

Then they hooked the big one.

“We caught a huge rainbow trout—the biggest I’d ever seen,” said Jamie Tyler, ’20. “It took all of us to bring him in. It was the most memorable day of my internship.”

Last summer, the leadership studies and political science double major completed his Jepson internship, with the support of a Burrus Fellowship, in the sales department of Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures in Bozeman, Mont.

The North Carolinian, who started fly-fishing as a fourth grader with his grandfather and father, wanted to explore a field that speaks to his soul. His internship affirmed his desire to work in the niche fly-fishing industry.

“Yellow Dog combines my three loves—fly-fishing, travel, and conservation,” Tyler said. “It’s a travel agency that markets fly-fishing trips throughout the world and has a commitment to sustainability.

“As a sales intern, I helped the sales team tailor trips to clients’ needs. I approached sales holistically by focusing on keeping our clients happy, booking the lodges we partner with equitably, and ensuring the sustainability of the fishing ecology in each of the 25 plus countries where we do business.”

One of those countries is Bolivia, which had a surprising tie-in to Tyler’s Jepson School of Leadership Studies education.

“Many of the fly-fishing guides in Bolivia are Tsimané, an indigenous people I studied in Dr. Chris von Rueden’s Sex, Leadership, and the Evolution of Human Societies class,” Tyler said. “I earned brownie points in my internship for knowing something about these people.”

Throughout his internship, he regularly applied skills he learned in Dr. Kristin Bezio’s Critical Thinking class, he said.

“That class taught me how to study a situation from all sides and find value in different viewpoints,” Tyler said. “I had never thought that hard before. I learned to form an argument and come up with solutions—something I used when working with the other Yellow Dog interns.”

Tyler said the work of the company-run nonprofit, the Yellow Dog Community Conservation Foundation, also resonates strongly with his education. 

“The foundation ensures sustainable fishing practices and gives back to the communities where Yellow Dog does business,” Tyler said. “This kind of balancing act, which strives to benefit all parties involved, really connects with what I have learned at Jepson about good leadership.”  

After graduation, Tyler plans to head to Katmai, Alaska, to work as a fly-fishing guide for a lodge that partners with Yellow Dog. He hopes to continue his love affair with fly-fishing by transitioning into a permanent sales or guide position with Yellow Dog in Bozeman or another one of its idyllic locations after the summer.  

“Fly-fishermen release the fish they catch,” Tyler explained. “You’re not fishing to eat, you’re fishing to connect with nature in an intimate way. It’s not so much about the fishing, as it is about the places. Trout don’t live in ugly places.”

Photo: Jamie Tyler, '20, holds a whopper of a catch.