Center’s Fishing for Kids program to expand
Maggie Carter shows a fish she
caught while aboard the Little
Toot, captained by Randy Stewart.
ANNA MARIA – The Island Community Center is angling to expand its Fishing for Kids program throughout the school year.
The popular program was offered the first time this summer, and its instructors, Center therapist Terri Milen and volunteer Bob Vita offered two four-week sessions. In each of the four sessions, the kids learned a different type of fishing – from the shore, from a pier, from a boat and on the flats.
“As soon as I agreed to do the program, Bob was on board,” Milen explained. “He’s the fisherman.”
“The concept behind it was in each class of the session, they would learn certain things such as types of fish and baits, water and fishing safety, being aware of your surroundings,” Vita added.
“The kids really enjoyed it, and that enjoyment is unlimited. It’s something interesting to do for kids who don’t play sports or as an alternative to sports.”
Vita said that some parents don’t know how to fish or have time to teach their children to fish, but with this program all they have to do is drop their kids off at the Center.
“It was something that was missing from the Community Center,” Milen said. “One of the reasons people come here is to fish. I felt we needed it, and we need to keep it going and expand it.”
They said once the temperatures drop and kids are settled into the school year, they hope to offer the class once a month, possibly on Wednesday, an early out day, or Saturday.
Both said their sponsors – John Vita; David Zaccagnino; Randy Stewart, of Little Toot Charters; and Jon and Jim Keyes, of Island Discount Tackle – were invaluable to the program.
“We hope to get other people on board like some of the charter captains who could teach the kids to fish,” Milen said. “The educational growth is unlimited. We could go snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking.”
“Terry Noll, of FWC (Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission), is very supportive,” Vita added. “We could take walks on the beach with their biologists.”
Milen said as the program grows, they hope to have a fishing tournament and awards banquet.
If you would like to volunteer or help sponsor the program or if you have a child you would like to enroll parents, contact Milen at 778-1908, ext. 209.