The Fishing Foundation

By on Jun 19, 2024 in Giving

The Fishing Foundation

The Fishing Foundation, established in 2010 in Berea, Ohio, is enriching lives through the sport of fishing. The program structure includes classroom-style instruction and training in four areas: aquatic education, casting, water safety, and identifying local fish species, as well as fishing from shore in a safe and secure environment. Moreover, The Fishing Foundation is making a significant impact in promoting environmental conservation, a cause that we can all be proud of and take responsibility for.

Since its establishment in 2010 and the introduction of free fishing events in 2012, The Fishing Foundation has been a catalyst for personal growth and empowerment. It has touched the lives of over two thousand teens, youth, and adults, giving them a unique opportunity to connect with others, commune with nature, and expand their environmental experience. The day is filled with learning casting techniques, rigging, knot-tying, fish species, the importance of sustaining the environment, and fishing from shore, all of which contribute to their personal development and empowerment, inspiring them to reach new heights.

At each fishing event, participants receive a rod and reel, bait, tackle, and hands-on training by certified fishing instructors, The Fishing Foundation Souvenir T-shirt, refreshments, and lunch. All organizational staff and essential volunteers are “certified” fishing instructors under the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’s “Passport to Fishing” program.

The Fishing Foundation’s popular book published in 2022, “Learn to Fish: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginning Anglers,” co-written by The Fishing Foundation co-founders Dennis Knowles and Gail Grizzell, is a 100+ page instructional resource and is given complimentary at all the free fishing events. Content from the book will be distributed across multiple platforms, including in-person programming, online, web, and social media, to introduce youth and teens to fishing, expand their knowledge of sport and encourage them to enjoy the great outdoors while learning how to fish.

The Fishing Foundation clients

“We are continuously innovating and evolving our programs to address the evolving needs and challenges facing our environment and communities. Whether it is through conservation initiatives, educational workshops, or community outreach events, we are committed to making a lasting and positive impact on both people and the planet,” said Dennis James Knowles, president of The Fishing Foundation. 

In the Media

The Fishing Foundation partnered with Signal Cleveland, an online newsroom in northeast Ohio, to introduce a syndicated-style comic strip titled Hooked. The strip features characters from the book who love to fish and decide to form a fishing club in Cleveland, Ohio. Together, through humorous adventures, they explore ways of becoming better anglers, the environment and conservation and the joy of being outside.

“The comic strip premiered in September 2023, and it continues to appear monthly in Signal Cleveland, which has a reach of nearly 10,000 subscribers,” said Knowles.  

The Fishing Foundation plans to partner with more community newspapers and online newsrooms throughout the area.

In addition, The Fishing Foundation hopes to provide more venues to connect content to the end-user and complete a new coloring book with fish species and their habitat designed for children ages two to eight.

Funding from Yardi provides underserved children and families an opportunity for environmental education they usually couldn’t access.

“When children are exposed to educational programs and activities like fishing, they will realize the importance of protecting the natural environment and essentially act as ‘ambassadors of nature’ in their communities,” explained Knowles.

By teaching young people a new skill or offering a peaceful activity, funds help the foundation spread the love of fishing and the benefits it brings.

“The Fishing Foundation is incredibly grateful for the generous donation received from Yardi. Your contribution is instrumental in helping us further our mission at The Fishing Foundation. Your financial support means a great deal to us, and we are excited about the opportunities funding provides to expand our programming reach and make a positive difference in marginalized communities,” expressed Knowles.

The Fishing Foundation

King W.

The Fishing Foundation is there for any marginalized teen or young person, and Knowles was there for King W one day after a long, hot fishing event.

In 2015, 13-year-old King W., who lived on the impoverished side of Cleveland near MLK Pond on MLK Blvd., approached Knowles and asked many questions about the foundation, the sport of fishing, and how much he loved to fish. King offered to help them pack up the rest of the gear, but Knowles was exhausted after a long day, was short and declined the child.

“In that instant, I realized my mistake. If he wanted to help, and it would bring him joy, who was I to decline his offer? I introduced King W. to the team, and he pitched in,” said Knowles.

Afterward, Knowles explained the nature of the foundation in more depth. He then gave King a fishing rod and reel, exchanging phone numbers, and soon King W joined the fun with the foundation. King W worked with the Fishing Foundation for three summers until he moved out of town with his family. King still follows and keeps up with The Fishing Foundation through social media.

Volunteer Opportunities

The Fishing Foundation welcomes and greatly appreciates volunteers. Volunteer opportunities include marketing, graphic design, rod and reel assembly and day of event activities such as registration, distribution of lunch, books and shirts, chaperon and fishing helper, rod and reel distribution and repair station and set up/break down of the event. Those interested, please fill out the online form.

“The Fishing Foundation strives to create inclusive and accessible opportunities for all community members to engage with our programs, regardless of gender, background, or ability. By breaking down barriers to participation, we aim to ensure that everyone can experience the joys of fishing and connect with nature in meaningful ways,” said Knowles.

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