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A line of fishing rods lean against a stone wall
Passports to Fishing at Biscayne National Park
NPF Photo / Edgar Woo
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Casting a Wider Net

The Junior Ranger Angler program introduces youth to fishing at our national parks
By Emily Kamin

For many families, fishing is a time-honored tradition that is passed down from generation to generation. It presents an opportunity to learn a new skill that will lead to many days spent on the water with loved ones.

The National Park Service protects a wide array of bodies of water, including rivers, lakes, creeks, and seashores. Nearly 200 of these sites welcome visitors to take part in recreational fishing. The Junior Ranger Angler program introduces kids and their families to the sport of fishing at many of these sites by offering hands-on instruction and lessons on topics such as local aquatic habitats, species of fish, fishing safety, and more. Participants earn a Junior Ranger patch and certificate, which hopefully mark the beginning of a lifelong love of fishing at national parks. The National Park Foundation's support of the Junior Ranger Angler program helps reduce barriers that often prevent youth from learning the sport, such as the cost of instruction or equipment like fishing poles, tackles, nets, or life jackets.

New River Gorge National Park & Preserve

A person wearing a life jacket and face mask casts a fishing line into a river
Junior Ranger Angler event at New River Gorge National Park & Preserve (NPF Photo)

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve hosted grandfamilies at an all-day clinic which brought together multiple generations – children, parents, grandparents, and other relatives – for fishing lessons on the New River Gorge's riverbank. Young anglers and their loved ones spent the day learning the art of fishing, including technical skills related to casting, knot-tying, identifying species of fish, Leave No Trace principles, and more. At the end of the day, participants were “sworn in” as Junior Rangers and awarded a Junior Angler fishing badge. They then celebrated with an outdoor picnic.

Redwood National and State Parks

Junior Ranger Angler badges
Junior Ranger Angler badges - NPF Photo / Edgar Woo

Redwood National and State Parks held an in-person and virtual fishing day event for kids and their families, which provided an introduction to proper angling techniques. In-person attendees received one-on-one instruction from experts while all participants learned about the diverse array of opportunities for outdoor recreation at their local national parks. Park rangers encouraged families to spend time outside and enjoy the many benefits that nature and new hobbies provide. At the end of the day, participants were gifted a newly minted "Junior Ranger: Let's Go Fishing!" activity book, a joint project between the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The booklet has hands-on activities and lessons on fishing, aquatic habitats, fishing safety, and more, accompanied by hand-drawn paintings.

Biscayne National Park

A park ranger and a group of young visitors with Junior Ranger Angler booklets
Park Rangers on the day of a Junior Ranger Angler event (NPF Photo / Edgar Woo)

The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) held their Passports to Fishing program at Biscayne National Park which educates anglers around the world on the basics of fishing and the importance of conservation and environmental stewardship. Passports to Fishing events connect kids with the great outdoors and has taught thousands of youth from communities across the country about the sport. Participants in the program receive a “passport,” along with the "Junior Ranger: Let's Go Fishing!" activity book upon registering at the Learn-to-Fish clinics. Youth and their families rotate through educational stations to learn about tackle, knot tying, conservation, casting, safety, and more. After completing each learning station, their passports are marked.

Once all stations are successfully completed, the passports are presented to the IGFA, and the participants receive a rod and reel to use throughout the duration of the event. The Junior Ranger Anglers and their families are then free to fish under the supervision of the trained staff and Volunteers-In-Parks. At the completion of the program, youths take the Junior Ranger Angler pledge and receive their Junior Ranger Angler badge. With the help of NPF, Biscayne held a 2020 learn-to-fish clinic that hosted 82 Junior Ranger Anglers and 56 adults.

The National Park Foundation is proud to continue providing financial support to fishing opportunities for children and families through grants to Junior Ranger Angler programs at our national parks.

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