Learning to fish at Rotary Park in Coldwater, Michigan.
DEAEF Youth Fishing Program in Michigan
Summer is a great time for kids to get outside, unhook from schoolwork and technology, and explore the wonders of nature.
For many kids, going outside without something specific to do can provide a challenge. On one hand, it’s great to be outdoors. On the other hand, what is there to do?
Learning different ways to explore nature can be a game-changer. It can open the door to a variety of positive summer activities and help kids to stay away from negative pressures.
Recognizing this, the DEAEF partnered with the DEA through Operation Engage to expand its beyond its very first Youth Fishing Program in 2017 in Washington, D.C. to reach new locations the past two years and into 2023. Through this program, two groups of students in Kalamazoo, Michigan had the opportunity in May to get outside and learn how to fish.
The program took place over two days. On day one, 12 students from Athens high school traveled to Rotary Park in Coldwater, Michigan to learn to fish. Police Training Sergeant Frank Rugg with the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi was the point of contact, managing the logistics and partnership. Other leaders included Sergeant Ryan Pedley, Officers Matt McLove and Todd Turner, and DEA Public Information Officer (PIO) Brian McNeal. The DEAEF provided fishing equipment to the kids to keep and use over the summer.
Athens high school at Rotary Park in Coldwater, Michigan with DEAEF Youth Fishing Program staff.
“Right from the start of getting on the bus, the students’ level of excitement was off the charts,” said Rugg. “It was so nice to see the smiles from start to finish.”
The following day, 14 students from Milwood Magnet School traveled to the Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery where they toured the hatchery and learned how to fish. Paul Frazier from The Fishin’ Weather Project was the point of contact, managing the logistics and partnership. They fished from the pier as they spent time with James Warner, a teacher from Milwood Magnet School.
Each day, students learned about types of fish such as sunfish and bluegill, fishing gear, fishing terminology, and fishing techniques. After creating rapport with the students through fishing, DEA PIO McNeal spoke to the students about the importance of staying healthy and not misusing drugs, and the students were very attentive. Each day the DEAEF provided fishing hats, drawstring bags, and dinner.
The Youth Fishing Program encourages youth to get “hooked on fishing” and not risky behaviors such as drug use. “[The Program] is special because it encourages young people to get away from potentially negative influences and directs them towards something positive,” said James Warner, the Milwood Magnet teacher who accompanied the students on the excursion. “Fishing is something that goes to the very roots of humanity. It can provide recreation, entertainment, sustenance, bond community and even a lifestyle/career for those who delve into it. This program opens up doors for individuals who may have never known they existed. It allowed them to forget about the negativity that they are bombarded with on a regular basis.”
The DEAEF looks forward to continuing the Youth Fishing Program in the future.
Milwood Magnet School students with DEAEF Youth Fishing Program staff.
Updated Jul 10, 2023