Youth Education Report

by Greg Kucharewski
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association November 2018 Newsletter)
2018 JCAA Youth Education Award

Mike and Debbie Bennett of Boating Education and Rescue (B.E.A.R.), was selected by the JCAA Youth Education Committee to receive the 2018 Youth Education Award. B.E.A.R. was nominated by the oldest fishing club in New Jersey, the Newark Bait and Fly Casting Club. Mike and Debbie Bennett, the husband and wife team, are passionate about teaching children about protecting the environment while teaching youngsters a variety of boating and fishing outdoor skills. Both are environmental boating and safety educators, NJ State Certified Instructors, Certified Master Naturalist and NJ HOFNOD Certified Instructors.

Over the years they partnered with the JCAA Youth Education Committee on NJ HOFNOD youth fishing and veteran “Play HOOK-e” Take a Veteran Fishing workshops/events. The JCAA Youth Education Committee has worked with and supported Boating Education and Rescue and the Bennett’s are very generous in helping with New Jersey “Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs” youth programs. They also take time to help our veteran men and women reconnect to the outdoors and work with veterans that train to become NJ HOFNOD instructors. Mike and Debbie are members of the NJ HOFNOD Leader Team. They communicate often with NJ DEP, Liz Jackson, NJ HOFNOD Coordinator to assist other NJ HOFNOD groups that are just starting their own program. You can also find them lending a helping hand to just about any environmental organization that needs assistance.

Each month, Mike and Debbie host youth fishing, water safety, environmental conservation, and junior boater’s workshops at Ocean County Park, Lakewood, NJ. They are dedicated instructors who teach school-age children and their families about protecting our environment and how to be safe on the water. Mike and Debbie visit local schools and fishing clubs to present programs such as, “Reel Fun Fishing” that is linked to NJ HOFNOD, “Pollution/Solutions”, “Outdoor Adventures” that includes crabbing, archery, nature walks, and “Inky the Whale” a story about a baby pygmy sperm whale.

Mike and Debbie Bennett are associate members of JCAA and go the extra mile to help the JCAA Youth Education Committee. This year they will assist Tim Brennan, Health and Physical Education with Brick High Schools, NJ HOFNOD programs that are in the curriculum at both Brick high schools.

2nd Annual Kids Wish’n to Go Fish’n Veterans & Kids Making Smiles

The weather was perfect for the 64 special needs youngsters and their families fishing the Second Annual “Kids Wish’n to go Fish’n” (KWTGF) Fun Day located at Lake Julianna on the Ponderosa Estate Farm, Millstone Township, New Jersey.

As children arrived at Lake Julianna and registered they received fishing instructions, tee shirts, patriotic dog tags, goodie bags, fishing caps, prizes, along with rod and reels. Mike and Debbie Bennett, Bear Education and Rescue, made sure children had plenty of bait and provided loaner rods and reels from their New Jersey “Hooked on Fishing not on Drugs” equipment trailer.

During the fishing segment of the outdoor fun day the focus was not on catching the biggest fish because it was catch and release only. Volunteer anglers from various organizations assisted children and their families with baiting hooks, releasing hooked fish, and setting up tackle. Bob Hopkins who volunteered with other club members from Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 12, stated: “The smiles from the children, parents and caregivers was amazing. Everyone was having fun.” Every child was able to catch a fish and some youngsters had the experience of catching their first fish and received a “First Fish Award” certificate.

After fishing, everyone gathered around the BBQ picnic area for delicious pizza and food that was prepared by Mr. Cardinale and his team. Children enjoyed hayrides, fly casting, Millstone Fire Truck and Firemen and playing with therapy animals from Golden Gate Farms.

The event could not be possible without the support of Mr. Cardinale and his team of caring volunteers. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Jersey Shore Chapter, Newark Bait Fly Casters, New Jersey Beach Buggy Association, Hudson River Fisherman's Association, Jersey Shore Surfcasters, Trout Unlimited, BEAR Environmental Educators, and the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 12 members all provided volunteer assistance for the event. We also thank the following sponsors and businesses: A special thank you to all of the sponsors: Magnakron, Tom Zapcic Photography, Jersey Coast Anglers Association, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 12, Boating Education and Rescue. Merchants – Dairy Queen, Dan Black Welding, East Gate Nursery, Bill Jim Construction, Laurita Winery, Teddy Bears By the Seashore, Golden Gate Farm, Manasquan River Marlin and Tuna Club Capt. Butch Cross, Phinas Farms, Dan The Tin Man, Jersey Shore Surfcasters, The Fisherman Magazine, Dunkin Donuts, Reel Seat B&T, Gabrile’s Bait Co., Spring Lake Freezer, Bagel Bistro, Jersey Hooker Outfitters, Frogbridge Day Camp, Black Bear Day Camp, Bimbo Bakery, and local contributors.

We also thank our amazing angling volunteers that assisted with set up and making sure everyone was safe by the water. Since 2016, Veterans, many of them disabled, have been invited guests by Mr. Vito Cardinale owner of Ponderosa Estates Farm to enjoy the peace and serenity of Lake Julianna. Mr. Vito Cardinale, President Cardinale Enterprises LLC., Don Marantz, Jersey Coast Anglers Association’s, Youth Education Committee KWTGF Chairman are planning a Volunteer Appreciation Day for all the volunteers that made the event a success.

NJ HOFNOD Happenings

NJ HOFNOD updated photos on their webpage. There are plenty of pictures of youngsters catching fish and lots kids participating in fishing events throughout the state.

During October and November the JCAA Youth Education Committee is supporting Brick High Schools fishing program and supplying learning materials from the JCAA lending library. NJ HOFNOD is a great way to introduce youth to fishing, learning about their local waters and other natural resources while supporting positive outdoor recreation activities and life skills. For more information about the training, contact Liz Jackson for details. 908-637-4125 x122

People with Disabilities Outing

The People with Disabilities September Outing was very successful and all the participants had a great time. Many participants caught fish and every contestant went home with a prize. Volunteers and participants enjoyed the hotdogs and condiments. Vern Mancini from the Musky Trout Hatchery stocked approximately 500 sunfish.

Rutgers students volunteered to help and the event ran smoothly thanks to their help.

New Tica Rods and Reels

After several years of use the surf fishing cart at IBSP will be updated again with new Tica rods and reels. The rods and reels had more hands on them than a deck of cards in Atlantic City.

NJBBA, JCAA and NJSFSC approved updating the surf fishing cart. The Tica rods and reels held up for a number of years and was maintained by several user groups. This is a good sign because the surf fishing cart is doing exactly what it was designed to do; teach a variety of novice anglers how to surf fish.

Over the years, several surf anglers volunteered or were paid to teach surf fishing to school-age children, becoming an outdoors woman, disabled children/veterans and novice senior anglers. It is very rewarding to witness a first-time angler learning to cast their bait into the surf and reel in their first catch off the beach. Kudos to all the veteran anglers that volunteered at IBSP and taught so many new anglers the joy of surf casting.

Fifteen beach wheelchairs complement the surf fishing program and get disabled anglers closer to the water. This is all provided through the Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament and contributions by Tica Fishing Tackle, GSFT sponsors, and generous groups/individuals. The surf fishing cart and beach wheelchairs were introduced after the first GSFT twenty-five years ago. It’s a rewarding program. If you would like to volunteer time to teach surf fishing, please phone IBSP Nature Center and ask to speak to Kelly 732-793-1315.

During October, we used Tica Fishing Tackle from the IBSP surf cart to teach disabled veterans surf casting at the National Guard Training Center, Militia Museum, Sea Girt, NJ. Paul Smith taught us how to surf cast with minimal effort and showed 21 Play HOOK-e veterans the proper spinning equipment and techniques to cast lures/weights from the beach. We also toured the Militia Museum and saw a mini submarine from the 1860’s. The sub held a crew of 17 and the propeller was powered by a hand-crank.

Jack Cusick won the Tica surf rod and reel door prize. Veterans received Tica caps, tee shirts, and goodie bags. We appreciate all Tica Fishing Tackle is doing to help our disabled veterans.

Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 12 purchased the grand door prize from Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle. Thanks, Ray, for a great deal. Please support local tackle dealers.

If you are a veteran and would like to subscribe to the Play HOOK-e Newsletter, please click on this link to register. Unsubscribe anytime or update your information. Look for upcoming Free Play HOOK-e Take a Veteran Fishing programs in The Fisherman Magazine online Events Calendar.

[News Contents] [Top]