George L. Disborough TU Research Grant Fund

George Disborough, 1925-1985, artist, scholar, sportsman, and trout fisherman was aptly described in one phrase by Michigan DNR Fisheries Chief, Dave Borgeson. At a dedication of a memorial to George on the banks of the Coldwater River, Freeport, Michigan, Dave opened his remarks with, “George Disborough was a gentle man.

”Born in Indiana, George cut his teeth, so to speak, as a smallmouth bass fisherman on the rocky limestone creeks of his native state. Upon moving north to Michigan in 1960, he found that the equivalent waters here supported a significant population of trout. It was, therefore, only natural that his passion for fishing would undergo a transfer of species to salmonids. He avidly pursued his sport, reading much of the available literature. He was a charter member of the Kalamazoo Valley Chapter Trout Unlimited and enthusiastically used his many talents to promote the growth of the chapter and the ideals of the national organization of Trout Unlimited.

His philosophy was, of course, consistent with his personality. He never really counted the number of trout he caught, but rather counted the hours of enjoyment and solitude that he spent on the stream. The act of pursuing and fooling a good trout with a well presented fly was not the only objective; he enjoyed the whole experience. The sight of a doe leading her fawn to the stream to drink the clear waters was a savored occasion. The thundering wing beat of a grouse or the whistling flight of a woodcock weaving its way through the tag alders added to the musical sounds of the river. The call of the whippoorwill signaled a good evening hatch. Even the frolicking play of a family of otters could be appreciated, though he knew that they would figuratively scare the spots off any trout in the vicinity.

Over the years, George was keenly aware of the attrition caused by overuse and misuse of our streams. This “gentle man” was never strident, but he was firm in his persuasion that the future of trout fishing lay in conserving, maintaining, and enhancing the resource. His skills created and fostered an advertisement that explained the “catch and release” posture with the admonition: “Don`t kill off your sport – limit your kill, don`t kill your limit.” The reclamation and restoration of trout habitat were also items of prime importance.

It is therefore fitting that the Kalamazoo Valley Chapter Trout Unlimited has established the George L. Disborough Trout Unlimited Research Grant to aid and encourage the recipient graduate students and research fellows in their studies to attain these ends.

Fund Overview

The George L. Disborough Trout Unlimited Research Grant Fund was established by Kalamazoo Valley Chapter Trout Unlimited in 1990 using a generous donation from the estate of one of KVCTU’s founders, George Disborough. The purpose of the Fund is to recognize and support studies of trout habitat or other projects consistent with the goals and objectives of KVCTU, which include preservation of wild rivers, cleaning up polluted waters, maintaining early warning Water Quality Surveillance programs, education of the public through workshops and seminars, and speaking for the concerns of all anglers and conservationists. The Fund pursues these goals through support of masters or doctoral level research studies of trout habitat or other projects consistent with the Trout Unlimited goals to preserve, protect, and enhance cold-water resources. Applicants must be U.S citizens or permanent resident aliens and graduate students at an accredited college in North America. Preference is given to research projects that involve resident populations of coldwater salmonids and their habitats and that use unique, innovative methodologies. When otherwise appropriate, preference is given to projects in Michigan.

The Fund is set up as an endowed charitable fund administered by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and has been supplemented over the years by donations from members, friends, and Chapter fund raising efforts. The Fund is self-sustaining, with a professionally managed investment strategy to maintain and grow it against inflation. The principal cannot be spent, and the Foundation is committed to using the Fund to support the designated goals in perpetuity, even in the unlikely event that KVCTU should cease to exist. Grant proposals from research students at qualified graduate institutions are solicited annually by the Foundation, and reviewed by an advisory committee containing KVCTU representation.

Grant Application Process

Application for grants is made through the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. Application forms and other details are available from

Eligibility criteria. The grant will be awarded based on the merit of the proposed project and not on the financial need of the applicant. The project must be consistent with the mission of Trout Unlimited, take place in North America, and the recipient must be a citizen of the United States and a graduate student at an accredited college or university.

Selection criteria. The grant will be awarded based on the project location, subject, distinctiveness, and method of implementation. The written proposal, talents required to perform the project, the candidate`s grade point average, and place of residence will also be considered.Specifications of the award. The value of the award is up to $2,500. Normally, the grant will be for one year, however it is possible that the grant may be renewed providing the applicant is able to demonstrate the merit of a renewal to the Advisory Committee and the Kalamazoo Community Foundation Board of Trustees.

Application and award procedures. Applications are available through the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, 151 South Rose Street, Suite 332, Kalamazoo, MI 49007.  The completed application must be addressed to the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and postmarked no later than February 15. The successful candidate will be notified in the spring and will receive the grant upon his/her return of a letter of acceptance for the award. For additional information. Contact the Donor Relations Officer, Scholarships, (269) 381-4416, Kalamazoo Community Foundation.