From Alaska to Florida, California to Maine, the Kids All-American Fishing Derby program literally reaches out for young anglers. In its 13th year, the nation^s most successful fishing education program has attracted more than 5 million participants from all corners of the U.S., in all 50 states, and the venues are split almost evenly between rural and urban locations.
How scattered are these nationwide events? How about Anchor Point, Alaska, or Kailua, Hawaii, or Saco, Maine, or maybe the City of Avalon on Catalina Island off the Southern California coastline, or perhaps the event organized by the White Mountain Apache Tribe, in Whiteriver, Arizona. Evalene Tulene of the tribe’s Game and Fish Department, says, "One of the good things about the derby is that it gives the reservation children and their families a chance to meet "non-member" children, to share cultures along with their fishing experiences."
Then there is the event held in Powers Lake, North Dakota, a mere 20 miles from the Canadian border, population slightly over 400. Organized by the Northwest Law Enforcement Department, this event regularly draws up to 600 kids from hundreds of miles away for a fun day of fishing. Roger Bangs, one of the coordinators for the department’s efforts, says their aim is to "create a positive impact and get the kids on better terms with law enforcement. Actually, we probably benefit as much as they do."
Big-city kids have an appreciation for bobbers and fish, too, and participate in derbies held in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville and suburbs of Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Philadelphia and even New York City! Most of the urban events are conducted under the auspices of a local parks and recreation department, or civic service organization such as the Optimists, Kiwanis, or Lions Clubs.
Most of the rural derbies are organized by the U. S. Forest Service through local ranger district offices. Hooked On Fishing International, founder of the Kids All-American Fishing Derby program, has been "partners" with the U. S. Forest Service for the past 12 years. According to Robert D. Nelson, Director of Wildlife, Fish and Rare Plants, USDA Forest Service, the derby program gives us "a special opportunity to introduce the public to the diversity of . . . our national forests as well as invite them to share in the enjoyment of these resources."
The Kids All-American Fishing Derby program is the largest nationwide kids and family nationally-sponsored special event in the United States. Each half-day fishing event, for kids ages 6-16, includes the highly popular Zebco Casting Contest.
Other highlights of the derby are the Tracker Marine "Big Fish" Contest and the Southwest Airlines "I Caught a Fish" Contest, where every youngster catching a fish at an event has a chance to win four round trip tickets on, of course, Southwest Airlines.
The philosophy of the Kids All-American Fishing Derby program is to introduce all youngsters and their families to an appreciation and respect for the environment, through conservation methods encouraged by means of hands-on participation in the outdoors and the sport of fishing 1999 program sponsors sharing in this philosophy are Plano Molding Company, Southwest Airlines, TNN Outdoors, Tracker Marine and Zebco. Groups or agencies interested in receiving information about hosting a kids’ fishing derby event in the year 2000 should contact Hooked On Fishing International, P. O. Box 249, Disney, OK 74340, or FAX (918) 782-4324, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.