Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and the George H.W. Bush Vamos a Pescar Education Fund announced the very first grant donations to organizations bringing conservation, education, fishing and boating experiences to Hispanic families. A total of $50,000 in grants were awarded last week during a ceremony at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas.
The George H.W. Bush Vamos a Pescar Education Fund was founded by RBFF in 2014, with an initial $125,000 donation by Bass Pro Shops Founder and CEO Johnny Morris, in honor of former President George H.W. Bush's 90th birthday. The mission of the education fund is to bring hands-on fishing and boating experiences, along with conservation activities, to Hispanic families across the United States. This event announces the first grants made in furtherance of this mission.
"I am hard-pressed to think of an outdoor activity that teaches you more about the beauty of nature and the joy of family and friends than does fishing," said President Bush. "And so I am very pleased to salute my dear friend Johnny Morris and all involved in running this wonderful program for their selfless and inclusive commitment to sharing the wonders of fishing with an ever-broadening audience of American families."
"We are honored to be a part of this historic fund to engage Hispanic Americans in recreational fishing and boating," said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. "The fund will work to increase awareness and participation in fishing and boating among our nation's fastest growing population through grassroots programs, classes and on-the-water activities."
Hispanics currently make up 17 percent of the U.S. population (54 million), and are projected to grow to 20 percent of the U.S. population by 2020. Out of 46 million total anglers, 3.3 million are Hispanic, representing only seven percent of all anglers in the United States.
To celebrate the announcement, local families and members of the community participated in fishing activities and a fun-filled fish fry at the April 14 event. In addition, Johnny Morris, Bill Dance and Pedro Sors presented former President Bush with a Bass Fishing Hall of Fame jacket and plaque in recognition of his recent induction into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.
"Today I am deeply honored to present President Bush with this award commemorating his induction to the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in recognition of the President's positive impact on fisheries, water access and conservation issues," said Morris. "Bass Pro Shops is proud to support the enduring conservation legacy of President Bush by engaging more families in outdoor recreation and inspiring the next generation of conservation leaders."
Grantee programs overview
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is managing three grants with established groups in the Houston area:
- Our Lady of Guadalupe;
- Fishing's Future – Houston Chapter; and
- Houston Parks and Recreation Department.
These organizations will use funds to organize fishing and boating trips that will be held in areas that are easily accessible and regularly stocked with fish. Participants will receive skills training on basic fishing, boating and water safety.
"Texas is blessed with a growing and diverse population who appreciates the outdoors, and we look forward to doing all we can to continue opening the door even wider to fishing, boating and conservation opportunities," said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director. "Fishing is an easy and fun gateway for families and individuals of all ages, and these grants are a wonderful pathway to participation in conservation. We're grateful for the support of organizations like RBFF, Bass Pro Shops and our nation's beloved 41st president, George H.W. Bush."
In Florida, a grant was given to Miami-Dade Parks Recreation and Open Spaces-EcoAdventures to continue to provide fishing opportunities and education to children and families in Miami-Dade County. Included in their grant program are:
- A 2016 Vamos A Pescar fishing event at Tropical Park in Miami that introduces families to fishing, boating and environmental education programs, and improves upon 2015 efforts;
- The continuation of fishing and boating safety camps held at various locations throughout the county; and
- A series of Family Fishing Workshops throughout the county where kids and families can spend time together, learning fishing from trained instructors and acquiring a respect for the outdoors.
"We are committed to helping Florida's families and youth fully enjoy healthy outdoor activities such as fishing and boating. Participating on a high school fishing team is a great way for teenagers to learn more about conservation and boating safety. We are grateful for this opportunity to expand high school fishing within our highly-diverse communities of Florida," said Nick Wiley, executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
More information about the George H.W. Bush Vamos A Pescar Education Fund is available at www.takemefishing.org/educationfund. For information on how to contribute to the Fund, please contact RBFF Senior Manager of Strategic Partnerships Rachel Auslander at firstname.lastname@example.org.