ALEXANDRIA, VA (November 10, 2011) – Military youth across the nation now have the chance to celebrate Veterans Day by fishing with their families, thanks to a partnership between the Recreational Boating & 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. Since the Military Rods and Reels Program launched, 2,868 rods and reels have been distributed to 90 military bases in 30 states, benefitting more than 120,840 youth.
In 2009, the Sentinels teamed up with NMFWA to distribute fishing gear to military families. The partnership was enhanced in 2010 when RBFF connected the Sentinels with Zebco’s refurbished fishing gear program. This summer, an additional 700 sets of refurbished Zebco rods and reels were distributed to NMFWA members and military families on almost 30 U.S. bases – just in time for Veterans Day.
“We are proud to support military families by providing the opportunity to enjoy a favorite American pastime,” said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. “This initiative allows us to enrich the lives of children whose parents serve our country. When children start fishing at an early age, we open up their world to not only other outdoor recreational activities, but an appreciation of aquatic conservation.”
“Our goal is to educate and engage the next generation of conservationists by exposing youth to the great outdoors,” said Sierra Club Water Sentinels National Program Director Scott Dye. “RBFF’s longstanding research has shown us that fishing is a top gateway activity to other outdoor activities, which helps to inform youth about the importance of environmental protection.”
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.
“We’ve received a great response from the families that the program serves,” said NMFWA President Richard Fischer. “RBFF, the Sentinels and Zebco have been tremendous partners and we look forward to continuing our efforts to get our military families outside and on the water.”
“We were able to give out rods and reels as prizes during our annual Fishing Derby event, and several of our kids wanted the rods over the other prizes,” said Dolores Perez, Recreation Specialist and Manager of Lake O’Neill Recreational Park aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif. “On behalf of the military families who participated in our event, we thank the partnership for their generosity.”
“This has truly been a collaborative effort, and a natural fit for us as a partner,” added Zebco President Jeff Pontius. “We are honored to provide our refurbished fishing gear and tools to military families – especially military youth– this Veterans Day.”
To see photos from Rods & Reels events throughout the country, visit www.Facebook.com/TakeMeFishing. 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.