The Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association was chosen as one of 14 programs within 10 Pennsylvania counties to receive a combined $160,000 in grant money from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's R3 Grant Program, designed to recruit, retain or reactivate anglers.
The association is using its share of the grant funds to help jumpstart the HERYN (Helping Engage our River's Youth with Nature) Program (pronounced "heron"), designed to connect young people with outdoor experiences through hands-on fishing and kayaking instruction in a fun yet safe environment.
"Our goal is to develop a vested interest in our river-based resources for the next generation of environmental stewards," said Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association Executive Director John Zaktansky. "I remember the sense of independence I felt when I first started catching fish on my own, and the therapeutic aspect of conquering the fears of first learning to kayak. We want to provide those experiences for other young people who may not have the opportunity to otherwise."
The fish and boat commission's R3 grant initiative helps programs that help recruit new anglers and boaters, retain existing participants in these activities and reactivate former anglers and boaters who may have lapsed in participation.
"Education programs play a role in R3 by providing experiences that increase knowledge and skills, facilitate social support, and provide information on opportunities close to home," said Amber Nabors, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission director of outreach, education and marketing. "When we encourage people to get involved and stay involved, fishing and boating can become lifelong outdoor recreational activities that bring people together in our communities and benefit physical and mental health."
Recipients of the grants, including local governments and eligible nonprofit groups, successfully applied for funding to assist with the development and delivery of new or expanding education programs that contribute to the PFBC's R3 efforts.
Funds awarded through the program will be used to purchase equipment, supplies and educational resources, provide transportation, and cover other costs associated with the development and delivery of R3 education programs.
"There are other needs and opportunities for individuals and businesses to get involved with the HERYN program," said Zaktansky. "We'd love to build up a team of individuals that are committed to helping our young people unplug from the chaos of current times and discover the peace and tranquility found only in our outdoor resources."
The association plans to start offering classes in the southern end of the watershed, which starts in the Selinsgrove/Sunbury area and extends up through the West and North branches of the Susquehanna, with a goal of eventually offering similar sessions throughout the 11,000-square-mile region of northcentral and northeast Pennsylvania that feeds into the Susquehanna River system.
Groups receiving 2020 R3 Education Grants include (by county):
To get involved with the HERYN Program initiative provided by the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association, email Zaktansky directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 570-768-6300. For updates as the program's final details are ironed out, visit our website's HERYN landing page. For more information on the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association, including a wide assortment of updates, projects and educational resources, visit www.middlesusquehannariverkeeper.org
For more on the R3 grant and the fish and boat commission's efforts to help engage new populations of potential anglers and boaters and to check out the full press release about this announcement, visit www.fishandboat.com
John Zaktansky is an award-winning journalist and avid promoter of the outdoors who loves camping, kayaking, fishing and hunting with the family.