ALEXANDRIA, VA (August 23, 2011) – Thousands of military youth and their families across America now have a better chance to experience some of our greatest pastimes - fishing and spending time in the great outdoors - thanks to a robust partnership between The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s (RBFF) Take Me Fishing™ campaign, the Sierra Club Water Sentinels, the National Military Fish & Wildlife Association (NMFWA), and Zebco, America’s largest manufacturer of rods and reels.
In 2009, the Sentinels partnered with NMFWA to distribute rods and reels to military families, but the initiative took off a year later when RBFF provided its full support and connected the Sentinels with Zebco’s refurbished rod and reel program. Since the program’s launch, more than 87,620 youth have benefited from the program, with 1,866 rod and reel sets distributed to 60 military bases in 21 states.
The most recent donation of 700 Zebco rods and reels will be shipped to the Sentinels this week, who will distribute the gear to members of the NMFWA for repeated use by families on military installations.
“RBFF has shown us considerable research that ties fishing to amplified and lifelong interest in conservation and environmental protection, which is what our organization is all about,“ said Sierra Club Water Sentinels Deputy Director Tim Guilfoile. “Our goal with this program is to get kids outdoors by giving them the tools they need to go fishing. We are creating the next generation of Huck Finns.”
“Our research shows that fishing is recognized as one of the top 'gateway' activities to other outdoor interests,” said RBFF President & CEO Frank Peterson. “We hope that by enabling these fishing experiences to happen, families will get out and enjoy one of America’s favorite pastimes together.”
“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 our nation and protect our natural resources,” said NMFWA President Richard Fischer. “The phenomenal success of the program just goes to show how much pent-up demand for fishing there is among young people and their families.”
“Supporting this program was a natural decision for us,” added Zebco President Jeff Pontius. “By providing the refurbished rods and reels to military families, we not only show support for our troops, but also engage new young anglers in the sport of fishing and contribute to conservation.”
Since 2005, RBFF’s Take Me Fishing campaign has played a critical role in helping generate nearly $20 million for state conservation efforts and introducing more than one million youth and newcomers to boating and fishing. The campaign increases awareness of the need to protect, conserve and restore the nation’s aquatic resources by encouraging participation in recreational boating and fishing.
To learn more about the program or to donate your own rods and reels, visit www.sierraclub.org/watersentinels.
RBFF is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating, thereby protecting and restoring the nation’s aquatic natural resources. RBFF helps people discover, share and protect the legacy of boating and fishing through national outreach programs including the Take Me Fishing™ campaign and Anglers’ Legacy™.
About the Sierra Club’s Water Sentinels
The Water Sentinels are a program of the Sierra Club, the nation’s largest and oldest grassroots environmental organization. Sierra Club Water Sentinels work to protect, improve and restore the waters of the United States by fostering alliances to promote water quality monitoring, public education and citizen action. Sierra Club Water Sentinels are also committed to creating outdoor opportunities for youth across the country.