I’m a goin’ fishin, mama’s goin’ fishin and the baby goin’ fishin’, too. Taj Mahal had it write with his bluesy fishing lyric, especially now that Outdoor Nation and the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) recently announced the winners of 10 Take Me Fishing Awards, bestowing $25,000 on organizations helping kids wet a line.
“Fishing is one of the top gateway activities which often leads to participation in other outdoor pursuits,” says RBFF CEO Frank Peterson. “We’re pleased to support these awards as a way to connect youth with the outdoors and create future anglers and boaters who will cherish and protect our outdoor spaces.”
Take Me Fishing Awards invest in innovative ideas for increasing youth participation in recreational fishing and reconnecting youth to the outdoors. Funding is made possible by RBFF, whose mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating.
Outdoor Nation awards a total of $25,000 to youth-led projects through a competitive application and review process. Ten projects from across the country were chosen for the Take Me Fishing Awards (see below).
“Thanks to RBFF, we continue to empower young people to champion an outdoor lifestyle and become leaders in their communities,” says Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation, the organization that oversees Outdoor Nation. “Take Me Fishing projects will increase the numbers of young fishing enthusiasts, engage diverse and underserved populations and provide valuable skills that will last a lifetime.”
2011 take Me Fishing Awards
EAGLE MOUNT BOZEMAN
Diana Proemm, MT
Activity: Therapeutic Recreation
Eagle Mount Bozeman is requesting funds to support their summer outdoor therapeutic recreation program called Adventure Days. The funds would be utilized for a fishing program designed to introduce youth & adults with disabilities to outdoor activities. The goal is to incorporate more days of fishing in the summer program to that each participant would have the opportunity to fish local rivers, streams, and lakes with professional guides (donating their services) to teach about responsible angling, catch and release policies, and management of fish and their habitats.
Bonnie Johnston, CA
Activity: Fishing Clinic/Mentorship
Cast Hope is requesting funds to offset the cost of providing 5 on-stream small fishing clinics. This will provide kids and their mentors the opportunity to get out on rivers, with the help of guides and volunteers, to learn the basics in fly fishing. Each clinic will give the mentoring pairs the knowledge and gear to get them fly fishing on their own. Each small clinic is on a local watershed where free rods, reels, flies, and tools to each youth/mentor will be provided. Fly fishing guides will instruct participants on how to read the water, match the hatch, and practice catch and release.
SAINT CLOUD STATE UNIVERSITY OUTDOOR ENDEAVORS
Kyle Arola, MN
Activity: University Program
This funding request is to develop specific programming (Fishing U) that will help introduce college students (ages 18-24) to recreational sport fishing. The funds will be dedicated to providing transportation, bait and associated supplies. Prior to taking to the water, or ice, a presentations will be delivered that will cover fishing techniques, fish identification, environmental stewardship and water safety as will as potential threats to our aquatic ecosystems including invasive species and water pollution.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER FUND
Anna Waugh, MN
Mississippi river Fund is requesting funding to support a pilot program called “Take me to the River and Fish” which breaks down the barriers between urban youth and fishing. This program will not only teach participants about fishing and gear, but also how to get to fishing locations without the use of a car, local conservation laws, and careers in outdoor jobs. National Park Service Rangers from the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area and volunteer anglers will work with youth through two community centers/schools to create a 5 session program that will teach 50 youth everything they need to know about fishing and give them the tools they will need to return to fish at the end of the program.
TENNESSEE WILDLIFE FEDERATION
Karen Vaughn, TN
Great Outdoors University (GOU), a program of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, is seeking funding to provide fishing trips to under served children, youth and families. GOU is a youth outdoor experience and education program whose mission is to connect kids with the great outdoors in meaningful and life-changing ways. GOU provides ongoing, hands-on outdoor and nature programming for under served children, youth, and families who would otherwise have little or no opportunity to learn how to fish.
Leslie Wirpsa, CO
Catmount Institute requests funds to purchase equipment to make fly and reel fishing permanent features of their outdoor education activities in trout streams and lakes in Colorado’s El Paso and Teller counties. The institute moves over 3K youth annually away from sedentary lifestyles and into outdoor classrooms through stellar environmental education programs.
FEATHER RIVER COLLEGE FOUNDATION
Zachary Parks, CA
Activity: At-Risk Youth
Project FISH is a mentor-based community education and fishing program for at-risk foster youth in rural Plumas County. The project provides an opportunity to bond with nature, learn about local fish habitats and gain a link to our natural resources. K-12 youth will utilize Plumas’ 1,000 rivers, lakes & streams as an outdoor classroom to explore recreational fishing & instill a lifelong love of fishing into the hearts of youth.
POCONO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER
Molly Check, PA
Activity: Ice Fishing
REELy Fishing is a staple theme for PEEC summer camp introducing children to: fishing education, safety, equipment, techniques, skills and practice, along with canoeing and boating safety, skills, techniques and practice. This funding will provide an opportunity to add additional summer programs and initiate a winter ice-fishing program. PEEC will also offer 4 half-day Ice Fishing workshops for children and families in January and February 2012.
Matthew Celesta, NY
Concrete Safaris is looking for funding to purchase fishing equipment that will be used by inner city students while fishing at areas in and around East Harlem, New York City. Students will also go on an overnight fishing trip in upstate New York in spring 2012. This excursion will be used as a culminating experience for the students as they learn the general skills of angling over the rest of the school year.
FRIENDS OF LOUISIANA WILDLIFE REFUGES, INC.
James Schmidt, LA
Activity: Wildlife Refuge/At-Risk
Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges, Inc. is requesting funding to conduct four fishing field day adventures for a total of 120 at-risk third graders using teaching experience from multiple generations. Each event will include 30 at-risk children and leadership will be provided by an AmeriCorps Team with oversight from the Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The students will be provided with fishing skills, fishing gear,and the self confidence gained while learning this lifetime activity. Students will also be able to take home a spin casting rod and reel.
The Outdoor Foundation
The Outdoor Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor enthusiasts. Through groundbreaking research, youth engagement and charitable investment, the Foundation works with partners to mobilize a major cultural shift that leads all Americans to the great outdoors. In 2010, the Foundation launched Outdoor Nation, a pioneering initiative that aims to empower youth to champion the outdoors on campuses and in communities across the United States. For more information visit:outdoorfoundation.org and outdoornation.org.