IGFA and the National Park Service (NPS) are
Joining Forces to Launch Innovative Fishing Programs
The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) and the National Park Service (NPS) are joining forces this summer to launch innovative fishing programs to connect children and their families with the great outdoors through recreational angling. Made possible in part by a grant from the National Park Foundation (NPF), this exciting initiative offers virtual and in-person components that introduce participants to recreational fishing and ethical angling practices at some of the most stunning fishing sites in the country.
An extension of the longstanding Junior Ranger Program through the NPS, these events will serve as part of the Junior Ranger Anglers initiative, the most recent addition to the Junior Ranger Program. The IGFA worked closely with NPS to build the Junior Ranger: Let’s Go Fishing! activity book in 2018 and executed a pilot program for hands-on Learn-to-Fish clinics in NPS locations in the southeast United States. The ten pilot locations were trained and equipped with materials from the Passports to Fishing program to continue hosting events at their site, after the initial event was executed and the park staff were adequately trained.
Building on the initial pilot program, the plan for 2023 is to expand to five new locations in different regions of the country to facilitate in-person events and build virtual fishing field trips at each location. Virtual components of the program include engaging digital resources that cover everything from fishing techniques, local fish species, other flora and fauna people may see while fishing in that area, and important conservation practices – all from the comfort of their own homes. These virtual experiences provide invaluable insights into the world of recreational angling and will be housed in the Fishing the United States series launching in September 2023.
The IGFA is well on its way to accomplishing the goals for the program expansion, as IGFA staff recently traveled to South Carolina, US, to provide Passports to Fishing education stations at Ninety Six National Historic Site’s annual Kids’ Fishing Rodeo on May 13, 2023. In total, 77 children participated in the day.
IGFA staff also spent a week in Colorado, USA, training interns from the Fish & Feathers Internship program administered by Environment for the Americas. Fish & Feathers is a 12-week summer internship program that provides National Park partners with talented, diverse interns ready to engage with local communities through fishing, birding, and other outdoor recreational activities. IGFA staff provided training on recreational fishing, ethical angling practices, and fish identification for the interns, and finished the week with a hands-on experience for the interns with a public fishing event using the Passports to Fishing stations.
The IGFA would like to thank Environment for the Americas, the Fish & Feathers interns, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the EVICS Family Resources Center for a great week in Colorado, and thank you to the NPS and the NPF for the excitement and grant funding to continue providing these opportunities for kids and families across the country.
The latest NPS Learn-to-Fish clinic took place in Buffalo National River in Arkansas, USA, earlier this month during a “license-free” weekend in the state. The event was very well attended, and the highlight of the trip was that two Junior Ranger Anglers went fishing for the first time and even caught their first fish on the Buffalo National River! A memory they will surely remember.
The IGFA is working hard toward achieving all the objectives set forth in the grant agreement. Thus far, it has been exciting traveling to new locations, fishing for new species, teaching kids to fish in various national park sites and creating new memories for these young anglers and their families.
Upcoming events include a shore fishing clinic at Padre Island National Seashore in Texas, USA, in September for National Public Lands Day, and a kids’ fishing camp at Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina, USA, in October, among others waiting to be confirmed.
If you are interested in learning more about the IGFA’s Education programs, please contact IGFA Education Director, Lisa Morse, at [email protected].
This project was made possible in part by a grant through the National Park Foundation. Thank you for your support!