Despite a worldwide lockdown during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IGFA mustered its worldwide staff of volunteers and partners and showed 100,000 young people that fishing is a global festival of outdoor fun and a wholesome activity for everyone.
In 2018 the IGFA announced an extremely ambitious goal to teach 100,000 youths around the world to fish, hoping to build a next generation of ethical, educated, and accomplished anglers. The initiative required new programs and an international expansion of the organization’s education programs that had previously been limited to South Florida.
In July, 2022, the goal of teaching 100,000 youths about ethical angling and the lifelong joys of fishing was achieved.
The paths to this remarkable goal was planned by IGFA staff through several venues. One was to develop an IGFA Passport To Fishing Kits, which essentially were fishing clinics in a box that were shipped worldwide to a network of supporters, volunteers and partners. The first IGFA Passports to Fishing kit was sent to Malaysia in March 2019.
IGFA also set up online angling educational programs about recreational angling and how important environmental and conservation concepts were to the health of fish and fishing. The online “Intro to Fishing” course was created and launched in May 2019.
Partnerships also were expanded to varied organizations that are involved with youth outdoor education, such as the Boy Scouts of America and the National Park Service.
By 2020 the Passports to Fishing program had expanded to 21 countries on six continents. Then the COVID-19 global pandemic struck and mostly halted in-person IGFA fishing education programs. But the organization’s online and virtual fishing resources roared to life to pick up the slack for face-to-face fishing education.
Virtual Fishing Field Trips were established to make up for reduced in-person angling education.
As the COVID-19 pandemic slowed and in-person restrictions diminished, IGFA’s Passports to Fishing program kicked back into high gear. By the end of 2021, Fishing Kits were in 32 different countries. With kit materials in hand, IGFA partners and volunteers began hosting youth educational fishing events.
Finally, in June 2022 – about the same time as IGFA’s 83rd anniversary on June 7 – the 100,000th youngster was taught about fishing just in time for IGFA Day.
IGFA is far from done, and the 100,000-youth education goal in 70 different countries, is being used as a catalyst to expand the organization’s youth angling education, ethical and conservation programs.
IGFA is continuing its youth angling education work using Passports to Fishing program as a mail tool to educate anglers. The program is used in 40 countries and translated into 14 languages. Online IGFA angling education also is expanding around the world to “promote responsible, ethical angling practices for game fish, conservation and the preservation of aquatic habitats for future generations.”