More than 80 local youngsters participated in the Fish With a Fire Fighter event at the Tennessee Children’s Home Spring Hill Campus on Saturday, June 1.
A joint effort by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) locals 4381 (Columbia) and 4628 (Spring Hill), the free community event was aimed at introducing the next generation of anglers and conservationists to the joys of fishing.
Each of the 86 youth who attended the event received a free fishing rod from Pure Fishing to nurture their passion for the sport, plus game calls courtesy of Plano Synergy. Twenty-four union volunteers from the two IAFF locals helped the youngsters rig up their new equipment, bait hooks and catch fish. Afterward, the youth, their families and volunteers enjoyed a picnic-style lunch together, courtesy of the Spring Hill Food Lion.
“I thought [the event] was really cool,” said Will Craft, IAFF Local 4381 secretary/treasurer. “All of our volunteers really enjoyed showing kids who had never fished before how to put worms on the hook and reel the fish in.”
The Spring Hill event was one of five union-led Take Kids Fishing Day activities held over the weekend as part of Work Boots on the Ground–the USA’s flagship conservation program. The other four took place in Wisconsin.
“Research shows that children who are introduced to fishing before the age of 14 are more likely to adopt it as a lifelong pastime,” said USA Conservation Director Robert Stroede, “and that’s why we feel the Take Kids Fishing Day events are so important.
“Through special excise taxes, sportfishing funds fisheries conservation and public water access projects to the tune of $600 million per year, so we need to ensure the next generation of anglers has a solid foothold when starting along that path,” he continued. “We are grateful to all union volunteers and other supporters who make these outreach events possible.”
“These events also give unions and their members an opportunity to give back to and interact with members of their local communities,” said USA Conservation Coordinator Cody Campbell. “Besides helping their friends and neighbors, it shines a light on what unions can do when it comes to community service.”