Fishing's Future recognized as #1 Aquatic Education Program in America
Recently, Fishing's Future was awarded the 2016 Roland Sigurdson Outstanding Aquatic Education Program Award naming Fishing's Future as the #1 Aquatic Education Program in America by the Aquatic Resources Education Association (AREA). Award ceremonies took place on October 26, 2016 at the U. S. Fish & Wildlife National Training and Conference Center just outside of Washington DC.
Competition was strong as many other programs throughout our nation were in the competition, including the Boy Scouts of America. Fishing’s Future Founder and President, Shane Wilson, graciously accepted the honor stating, “This award goes out to all volunteers and supporters who have taken part in making Fishing’s Future what it is today. There are hundreds of Fishing’s Future volunteers who give freely of their time to share the joys and knowledge of fishing within their communities and we could not do it without them.”
Fishing’s Future (FF) was started in 2007 on the Island of South Padre on the southernmost tip of Texas. Over the last several years, FF has shared some level of angling education with more than 600,000 individuals nationwide. In 2016 alone, they reached more than 140,800+ individuals and logged more than 16,700+ volunteer service hours across the country. It is no wonder they are #1 in the nation.
The idea of Fishing’s Future began when Wilson was operating as the Administrator of a local School District’s Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP). Students who misbehaved were sent to DAEP to continue and/or complete their High School education. Wilson understood, “These kids were good kids who just made some bad decisions and when two or three of them got together, their decision making abilities plummeted.” During his 12-year tenor at the Alternative School, it became apparent that many of these adolescents were making bad decisions simply because they did not have active positive parental engagement in their lives. In response, Wilson came up with an idea to start an Angling Education Program to “rehook” the parents to their children. He wanted to reconnect families and found himself reflecting back on his own childhood where fishing was instrumental in strengthen his family’s bonds.
Reconnecting the family unit became Wilson’s mission and angling education was going to be the vehicle he used to accomplish that goal. His battle cry became “families forever” and from there, the logo was born! Two lowercase “f”s representing “families forever” were turned around to embrace each other signifying the theme and then the program’s name “Fishing’s Future” was chosen. Wilson ponders, “When you teach, education is the foundation and the future, so angling education is truly the future of fishing.”
Wilson has pushed hard to grow the organization ever since that first day and this past October’s recognition from AREA as the Nation’s leader in Aquatic Education was indeed a tribute to his labor of love. As a volunteer non-profit organization, FF receives inquiries daily to form new partnerships, open new chapters and schedule additional events. Donations from corporations, foundations and private individuals are the only supplements keeping Fishing’s Future afloat.
Currently more than 55 chapters are spread across America and over the next 5 years, Fishing’s Future expects to double in size. FF plans to have several chapters in every state and at the rate they are growing and the recognition they are receiving, Fishing’s Future is on the way to becoming a household name. As the organization flourishes, more sponsors are required to continue the everlasting effects this program has on youth and their families. They invite you to get involved, get “hooked in”. For more information visit their website www.fishingsfuture.org or follow them on twitter and Facebook.
Fishing’s Future Founder and President, Shane Wilson, ardently extended a heartfelt thank you to the Aquatic Resources Education Association, U. S. Fish & Wildlife, the many volunteers, sponsors, and participants of FF and a special thanks to Roland Sigurdson and his family.