Youth Education Report

by Greg Kucharewski
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association October 2021 Newsletter)
NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife Veteran Fishing

The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife will partner with Vietnam Veterans of America Shore Area Chapter 12 (VVA 12) to increase freshwater and saltwater fishing opportunities for veterans. Under the direction of Karen Byrne, May 5, 2021, NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife held their first Veteran’s Surf Fishing workshop. I met with Karen to expand the veteran fishing program. We are currently completing a grant proposal for veteran fishing to include other veteran organizations. The proposal will contain segments of our 2011 Play HOOK-e mission statement to help veterans and their families learn to fish.

NJ HOFNOD Fishing Challenge

The Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs Program's Youth Fishing Challenge statewide event will take place on the state's second Free Fishing Day, Saturday, October 23rd, when no license is required to fish regardless of age.

This fall, think about becoming a HOFNOD instructor. NJ HOFNOD facilitator workshops are hosted by the DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife. It is well worth the time to learn creative aquatic activities to teach youngsters the importance of becoming environmental stewards. This workshop is a great learning experience. If you are interested in attending a NJ HOFNOD workshop, please phone or email Liz Jackson, NJ HOFNOD Coordinator. Phone: 908-637-4125 x-122, email:".

Brick high School HOFNOD

Tim Brennan, Brick High School Health and Physical Education teacher has students learning to collect growth data on Blackfish in their classroom saltwater tank. Three days during the week, students are bussed to fishing locations and learn about saltwater and freshwater fishing. This is the 4th year NJ HOFNOD fishing program is in the Brick Memorial High School curriculum and it is very popular among the students.

Students are also encouraged to continue learning about aquatic education and practice fishing skills outside of school activities. Visit the NJ HOFNOD website for program updates.

Lake Julianna a Great Success

On August 21, 2021, veterans, active-duty military personnel and youngsters along with their families enjoyed a fun day at Ponderosa Estates Farm in Millstone NJ to catch and release fish at Lake Julianna. The goal of the fishing day was to offer special needs children and disabled veterans a day to fish and feel the health benefits of getting in touch with nature while making good memories.

Don Marantz, Event Chairman, Vito Cardinale, Cardinale Enterprises LLC, and Randy Johnson, Laurita Winery provided a fun-filled day for all in attendance. Over 400 attendees enjoyed the festivities at Lake Julianna.

As children and veterans arrived at the event, they were greeted by the Play HOOK-e welcome team volunteers that provided instructions for the day, temperature checks, welcome bags, loaner rods/reels, toys for children, KWTGF youth tee shirts, and goodie bags. Corporal Philip A. Reynolds Detachment Marine Corps League, Freehold, NJ helped set the tone for a patriotic fishing event by providing a Color Guard and music. Members of the 514 Mobility Wing helped gather families for the opening ceremony.

More than 40 fishing volunteers were available to assist children and veterans that came to fish. Veterans attending the event also helped youngsters cast a line. Participants had the use of loaner fishing rods and reels, rigs, and Spring Lake Freezer Bait Company made sure there were plenty of worms for catching fish. “NJ Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs” certified instructors Mike and Debbie Bennett of Boating Education and Rescue provided fishing tips and bait rod/reel trailer. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Heroes On The Water, Jersey Shore Surfcasters, Newark Bait and Fly-Casting Club, New Jersey Beach Buggy Association, Hudson River Fishermen’s Association, Berkeley Striper Club, NJ State Federation of Sportsmen Clubs, MA22, Trout Unlimited, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 12 all helped children and disabled veterans fish.

Youngsters enjoyed pony rides, and friends and family of Mr. Cardinale served food to everyone in attendance at the BBQ area, Red Express Pizza, and Helping Hands of Jackson hotdog cart. We thank our gracious host and all the volunteers that assisted to make the 5th Annual Play HOOK-e KWTGF and Take a Veteran Fishing Day a great success.

Many organizations/businesses contributed and came out to volunteer their time, NJ DEP Fish and Wildlife, New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen Clubs, Pro Tapes C.O.R.E., Big Brother Big Sister, BEAR Environmental Educators , NJ State Police, Hamilton Station, Millstone Fire Department, Boy Scouts, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, The Fisherman Magazine, Bogan's Brielle Bait & Tackle, Gabriel CO., Jersey Hooker Outfitters, Betty & Nicks B&T, The Tin Man Lures, Grumpy’s B&T, Reel Seat B&T, Pell’s Sport and Fish, Boating Education and Rescue, Central Jersey Rifle and Pistol Club Warrior Program, MA 22, Recalibrate, Jersey Shore Surfcasters, New Jersey Elks, Trout Unlimited, Shore Surf Club, Newark Bait and Fly Casting Club, Hudson River Fisherman's Association, New Jersey Beach Buggy Association, and several other volunteers/veterans organizations.

Contributors: Cardinale Enterprises LLC. family and friends, Randy Johnson Laurita Winery, Manasquan River Marlin and Tuna Club, Military Support Alliance of NJ, East Gate Nursery, Antsy the Clown, Bill-Jim Construction Co., SFC Enterprises, Top Shelf Nursery, My 3 Sons HVAC, Sea Coast Chevrolet, Village Donut Shop, Wood Fire Pizza/Blackie’s Welding Service, Model Flying Airplanes, Phinas Farms, Magnakron, Rosetto realty, PDS Engineering, Joint Base McGuire 514th Air Mobility Wing, Tom Zapcic Photography, DR Horton builders, Sea Coast, Jackson Helping Hands, Phil's Tree Service, Mrs. USA, Red Wagon Farm Stand, Spring Lake Freezer, T. G. & Sons Ice Cream, Teddy Bears By the Seashore, Bagel Bistro, Suggs Nicholas Shea Inc, Dairy Queen, Frogbridge Day Camp, Black Bear Day Camp , Jersey Coast Anglers Association, Marine Corps League, Vietnam Veterans of America Shore Area Chapter 12.

Support Local Tackle Dealers

We recently visited local tackle dealers to setup our Play HOOK-e display and inform veterans and their families about our “Play HOOK-e from PTSD” programs. All our Play HOOK-e veterans are encouraged to shop at local tackle dealers. Most tackle dealers offer discounts to veterans. Here is link to tackle dealer list.

Veterans that stopped by our table received a welcome gift bag supplied by Vietnam Veterans of America Shore Area Chapter 12 and Jersey Coast Anglers Association. We informed veterans about our JCAA newspaper and Play HOOK-e by-monthly newsletter. Many thanks to participating tackle dealers for supporting our magnet campaign and allowing us space to speak to veterans at their business. If your business would like us to setup a Play HOOK-e Go Fishing display, please contact Greg at 732-785-9278.

During October, we are offering veterans with PTSD an opportunity to relax for a few hours by the water and visit natural calming areas. If you would like to experience saltwater and freshwater fishing, we have a short one-to-one fishing program to get you outdoors to fish and boat. Connect with nature at Lake Julianna, LZ- 64, Island Beach State Park, and other open spaces. To schedule a day and time, please email Greg @

Fishing Programs at Pequest

Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center is offering FREE fishing programs this fall. For more information and to register visit the links below.

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