BY CURT FRIEZ, PENDILLS CREEK/SULLIVAN CREEK NFH
of Pendills Creek Hatchery-Kids Fishing Day. Credit: USFWS
For the past seven years our hatchery has partnered with the Friends of Pendills Creek Hatchery, our local “Friends Group” to put on an annual Children’s Fishing Event on Pendills Creek. These types of events have become more common place and occur at various locations throughout most states. The common theme among these types of events is getting children excited about the outdoors and outdoor activities, especially fishing. Fishing can be a treasured activity for many children; it’s often a new experience for them as well as for their families. Novice anglers quickly realize it is a learned skill and fishing…doesn’t necessarily mean catching.
However, after conducting numerous events of this nature and trying to enhance the experience of the participants, I have come to one conclusion that makes all of the hard work worthwhile. It is that we are creating memories for these children that most will keep with them their whole lives and that in itself makes the event worthwhile. Our hope is that these memories will eventually evolve into a true appreciation for the outdoors and the aquatic environment. Once this appreciation develops, the aquatic environment then gains continued public support for conservation efforts that lasts a lifetime. The return on investment cannot be put into a dollar figure but is critical in the support of the aquatic efforts taken on by government agencies for habitat, conservation and enhancement activities.
In this age of electronic overload it is nice to see children appreciate something different that has a reality component to it. As with so many of us, this reality component of fishing, hunting or some other outdoor activity also serves a purpose for us to recharge our batteries and get us away from the grueling activities of modern daily life and get back to the primary reason most of us work for the Fish and Wildlife Service. Having the ability to reconnect with nature brings a sense of reality back into our abstract working lives situated in an office, away from the resources we are working with to conserve, protect and enhance.
Throughout life, once the memories are created an appreciation starts to cultivate and hopefully through time develops into an outdoor enthusiast, focusing on the true value to these natural resources and the natural world.
It is imperative that we all do as much as possible to make memories for children. As adults, they are the voting public; their support for natural resources will depend upon their outdoor appreciation to perpetuate the future significance of Fish and Wildlife Management or it will fade in relevance and importance in future generations.
Let us all strive to create memories for our nation’s children!