Happy Kids: Sierra Club Water Sentinels and Partners Deliver Rods, Reels, and Smiles
The annual Kid's Fishing Derby earlier this month on Lake O'Neill at Camp Pendleton was a big catch, thanks to an ongoing Sierra Club partnership between the Water Sentinels, the National Military Fish & Wildlife Association (NMFWA), the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation's Take Me Fishing campaign, and Zebco, the country's largest fishing rods and reels manufacturer.
The Derby, a catch-and-release event for kids as young as three, featured 171 young contestants. Winners who stood out included 10-year-old Nathan Wardinsky who caught a two-pound, three-ounce bass, 7-year-old Brandon Bolanos, who caught a catfish, and 7-year-old Trinity Flemming, who snagged 10 fish, the most out of all the kids. The total number of fish caught was 66. It was a fantastic day that drew 250 military family members and friends. See more pictures here.
Through Military Families Outdoors and the Water Sentinels, the Sierra Club has been a longtime supporter of people who serve in the military and their families. In 2009, the Water Sentinels teamed with the NMFWA in 2009 -- a partnership enhanced by a collaborative effort with the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and Zebco and its outstanding donations of fishing gear. This program has already touched nearly 90,000 youth across 21 states.
"Fishing, more than any other water related activity, has the most lasting effect on future outdoor and healthy lifestyle activities," said Water Sentinels Deputy Director Tim Guilfoile. "Seventy-eight percent of people who fish participate in another outdoor activity. This is a significantly higher rate than the overall population."
This year the Water Sentinels has distributed more than 2,000 rods and reels to 76 military bases across the U.S., and the program will continue through 2012.
"Lack of equipment is the principle barrier to getting our youth out fishing," Guilfoile said. "Our partnerships have provided the resources necessary to help youth on military bases connect with the outdoors."
Tim said adults are 25 percent more likely to become involved in environmental issues if they had fished as children. They are more likely to support conservation and advocate the protection of parks and outdoor recreation.
Earlier this summer after an announcement on this collaboration, NMFWA President Robert Fisher said, "Our main goal is to expose the youth of America to the great outdoors, especially young people on military bases whose parents fight to defend out nation and protect our natural resources. The phenomenal success of the program just goes to show how much pent-up demand there is for fishing among young people and their families."
Congratulations to all who participated in this year's Kid's Fishing Derby.