Fishing in the Neighborhood program reels in new anglers
MADISON – Smiles shared, fish caught, and new licenses bought are testimony to the growing success of a partnership to introduce fishing to Wisconsin’s growing number of Latino and Hmong youngsters, state fisheries officials say.
“Our goals are to welcome new people into the community of anglers, to help them establish a relationship with the resource and adopt Wisconsin’s tradition of stewardship,” says Theresa Stabo, Department of Natural Resources aquatic resources education director. “We’re very excited that our Fishing in the Neighborhood program is growing and that partner groups are getting important recognition and funding to expand their local efforts.”
Centro Hispano of Dane County, one of the partnering groups, recently received a $30,000 grant from the national Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (exit DNR) for its bilingual fishing club, Club de Pesca.
Centro Hispano Executive Director Kent Craig says the organization is very excited about the national grant and the ongoing relationship with DNR and other program partners. “What we’re hoping is to see young people get more opportunity to spend time on water fishing and learning more science,” he says. “In addition to expanding the program, we’re hoping to develop a replicable, culturally competent curriculum for offering fishing clubs in Latino communities.”
DNR has long trained volunteer instructors in how to start their own fishing clubs for youngsters and others new to fishing. In recent years, DNR has focused more attention on working with partners to help start fishing clubs within minority communities, as was successfully done at the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee and the Boys & Girls Club in Madison.
This year, DNR has provided angler education training to college interns and is paying them stipends to work with five different youth organizations that serve low-income people of color. Andrea “Tess” Arenas at the UW-Madison Office of Service Learning and Community Based Research recruited the interns and identified organizations willing to partner with the state and supervise the interns.
Interns have been placed at five community centers: Centro Hispano of Dane County, Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, Urban League of Greater Madison, Hmong Assistance Association in La Crosse, and the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe in Odanah.
DNR is providing fishing equipment for the interns to use with the youngsters. The interns recruit members for the clubs, instruct the youngsters in basic fishing techniques, set up fishing trips and bring in guest speakers to talk to the participants about aquatic resources topics. In addition to a stipend, they earn college credit for their work.
DNR pays for the costs of the clubs through the Sport Fish Restoration money it receives from the federal government from an excise tax on the sale of fishing equipment. Madison South Rotary Foundation provided additional funding for the Madison groups. It’s welcome seed money, says Centro Hispano’s Craig.
“We wouldn’t have a program without the DNR,” he says. “Getting the national RBFF grant shows it was a wise investment.”
Stabo says that DNR’s Fishing in the Neighborhood initiative recognizes that Latino and Hmong immigrants represent the fast-growing segments of Wisconsin’s population. “We want club members and their families to see fishing as a good choice for weekend or after-school activities, once summer ends and everyone is back at school.”
Club de Pesca shows how the program seeks to make fishing a good choice by tailoring it to a specific culture. “Having a program which is free, based at a known agency and run by bilingual staff makes fishing much more accessible to the Latino community,” says Jannet Arenas, the intern who is leading the Centro Hispano program.
Organizations interested in learning more about how to start a fishing club for new anglers, including Latino and Hmong organizations can contact Theresa Stabo at 608-266-2272.
For more information: