Fishing in Schools

Summary

Recreational fishing is widely accepted as a wholesome and non-controversial lifetime outdoor activity with numerous positive benefits. By sanctioning angling as a recognized sport, athletic associations and schools provide opportunities for students and families who might not otherwise participate in school-sponsored extracurricular activities.

Introduction

Recreational fishing is widely accepted as a wholesome and non-controversial lifetime outdoor activity with numerous positive benefits. These benefits include: physical activity, a better understanding and appreciation for the outdoors, an increased awareness of the environment and our natural resources, all while providing a life-long, affordable activity.

These benefits, coupled with an increased interest at the youth and educational level, has led some states to enact legislation implementing fishing into school curriculums. Four states (IL, KY, MO, NH), through their respective High School Athletic Associations, now recognize competitive bass fishing as a sanctioned high school activity. By sanctioning bass fishing, athletic associations and schools are hoping to draw in students and families who would otherwise never participate in angling. In Illinois, school participation is up from 199 schools in 2009 to 262 schools in 2016. Students wishing to participate in fishing in these states are required to have a valid state fishing license, membership with the Student Angler Federation (SAF) for liability insurance purposes, and a coach on board the boat at all times. 

Points of Interest

  • Since its inception in 2009, work by the National Fishing in Schools Program (NFSP) has led to 283schools from 41states and D.C. implementing the “Fishing in Schools” program. With 535 educators certified to teach NFSP curriculum, nearly 100,000 students have been able to receive a NFSP education.
  • NFSP’s “Fishing in Schools” is closely modeled after the highly successful National Archery in the Schools Program.
  • The Future Fishing Foundation’s “Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs” curriculum, now in its 20th year, has been extremely successful in its implementation throughout numerous states and schools.
  • Both NFSP and the “Hooked on Fishing Not Drugs” curriculum have received overwhelmingly positive feedback. With some reports indicating 97% of students enjoyed the program.
  • Other programs such as the Student Angler Federation (SAF) and C.A.S.T. (Catch a Special Thrill) For Kids have worked to promote education through the joys of fishing.
  • In Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and New Hampshire bass fishing is classified as a sanctioned “activity.” This definition allows bass fishing to operate on a separate set of bylaws, which ease restrictions on finding a coach.
  • North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama and South Carolina are currently attempting to sanction bass fishing as a high school activity. 

Language

  • In 2013, Louisiana passed legislation (SCR 22) urging the Louisiana High School Athletic Association to establish and sanction the sport of competitive bass fishing.

Moving Forward

Sanctioning fishing as a recognized sport or activity through the respective state high school athletic associations is one way to establish an angling program in a school. However, there are also several organizations that have worked to promote the sport to the next generation of anglers. Funding from the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act could be allocated to schools for necessary angling equipment. States should consider programs that incorporate angling into schools in some capacity. Not only is angling a wholesome, lifelong outdoor activity, but also, the excise taxes from all the products associated with fishing are an integral part of The American System of Conservation Funding. In the spirit of advancing our nation’s recreational fishing heritage and improving angler recruitment and retention, legislators should explore and support legislative options that make angling programs more readily available in our children’s schools.  

Contact

For more information regarding this issue, please contact:
Chris Horton (501) 865-1475; chris@sportsmenslink.org

Legislative Alerts

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