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Family & Youth Casting Call: Getting Kids Outside, Active, and Hooked on Fishing! | Environment

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Family & Youth Casting Call: Getting Kids Outside, Active, and Hooked on Fishing!
Family & Youth Casting Call: Getting Kids Outside, Active, and Hooked on Fishing!


The following information was sent to us by Mike Bailey:

The Family & Youth Casting Call (FYCC) is a fun family and youth fishing event at Fletcher's Cove on the C&O Canal in Washington DC. The 2012 event is scheduled for Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21.

What better way to get kids “hooked” on nature than by teaching them how to fish?  This April, local and national fishing and conservation organizations will once again host the Family & Youth Casting Call to help “set the hook” for children to learn about nature and fishing in the Washington, DC area. A wiggling fish on the end of a taut line can be one of the most tangible connections between having fun outside and learning about conserving our natural resources.

During this action-packed event, partners will provide all the tools and training necessary for youth to catch fish in the C&O Canal. Volunteer instructors will teach safety and basic fishing techniques and our sponsors will supply the bait and tackle for the day’s event. For this event, a portion of the C&O Canal will be stocked with native fish and all children will have the opportunity to catch fish.

When not fishing on the canal, children will complete a series of hands-on activities to earn their National Park Service Junior Ranger Badge. Learning stations set up around the facility will teach fly-tying, water quality testing, bug identification and more. There will also be plenty to do for the little ones including fish art, touch tanks and scavenger hunts.

Event History/Legacy

FYCC began in 2007 as an add-on public event to supplement the American Fly Fishing Tackle Trade Association’s (AFFTA) National Casting Call (NCC). The NCC was established to engage members of the US Congress about the importance of fisheries conservation and highlight the work of National Fish Habitat Action Plan and work of Jim Range’s Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.  While FYCC became a celebrated success under the care of AFFTA, the event has grown beyond AFFTA’s mission to include spin and fly fishing techniques and general outdoor and conservation education. 

Today, FYCC has expanded to include one day dedicated to programming for 200 local DC and Maryland grade school students and one day of free, public fishing and educational activities for local families.  A group of conservation and fishing industry partners and dedicated individuals have come together to ensure the future success and growth of FYCC - working  together to get kids outside, active, and hooked on fishing to foster a healthy, informed, natural resource conservation minded population.  Currently committed partner organizations are listed below.


FYCC is designed to educate participants about the importance of natural resources conservation as it relates to fisheries in a context which also provides youth with an opportunity to experience a fun and exciting outdoor activity.  Research has shown that recreational fishing participants are more interested in environmental stewardship than non-participants (Hockett, McClafferty, and McMullin 2005).  Specifically, recreational fishing participants are more interested in preserving underdeveloped land for outdoor recreation, developing parks with biking and walking trails, volunteering and donating to support environmental efforts, and including outdoor recreation activities in the school day, than those who do not participate in recreational fishing (RBFF 2011).   Additionally, Boaventura et al. (2011) found that “outdoor activity is extremely important to promote meaningful science learning in children.”

Education will be provided through organized activities and self-directed viewing of displays.  These educational opportunities will include such activities as:

  • Boating/water safety and basic fishing techniques
  • Spin fishing on the C&O Canal for native fish stocked fish in contained area
  • Audubon Society Enviroscape watershed activity
  • Audubon Society macroinvertibrates identification activity
  • National Fishing in Schools fly-casting and fish identification activity
  • National Park Service Junior Ranger Badge program activities
  • Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin education activity about the history, restoration and conservation of shad in the Potomac River, including shad planking and tasting
  • USFWS touch tank
  • Trout in the Classroom trout tank
  • Other natural resource and fisheries conservation activities

In the past, these organizations have included (in alphabetical order) Coastal America Partnership, Family Tyes, Fly Fishing in Schools, Future Fisherman Foundation, Interstate Commission of the Potomac River Basin, Living Classrooms, National Park Service, NOAA Fisheries, Potomac Conservancy, Project Healing Waters , Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, The Maryland Fisherman's Annual, Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders, Trout Unlimited, and the US Fish & Wildlife Service.  These organizations contributed activities including regional history, bioassessment, local fishing clubs, conservation principles, fish anatomy , fish prints, fly casting, fly tying, fish identification, fish touch tanks, spin fishing, shad planking & tasting, trout in the classroom, virtual fishing games, water quality testing, and youth angling programs.


Outdoor Activity through Fishing

Getting kids outside and involved in recreation activities has benefits for the kids, their families, and society.  Research into these benefits began as far back as the 1950s with the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission established by the US Congress.  Physiological, economic, environmental, psychological, and social/cultural benefits have been documented as outcomes of outdoor recreation, including recreational fishing (e.g., Driver et al., 1991; Ewert, 2003; Kocis, 2007).  As a result, President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative to develop a contemporary conservation and recreation agenda (AGOI) and the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Outside campaign to fight childhood obesity through healthy eating and outdoor activity (Let’s Move) currently sponsor National Get Outdoors (GO) Day to get kids involved in outdoor recreation activities.

In addition, current research tells us that:

  • People reported “greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity [compared to indoor] and declared a greater intent to repeat the activity at a later date” (Coon et al., 2011).
  • “Playing outdoors gives children a completely different set of skills from indoor activities. Both physical and cognitive skills can be improved during periods of outdoor play” (Roth, 2011).
  •  “Youth enjoy nature, but could be more active and engaged;
  • Adults appreciate restorative aspects of nature; youth prefer competitive and challenging experiences; and
  • Programs should promote, educate, train and create opportunities for youth to engage in healthy lifelong activities.
  • Activities must be provided that are compelling and that address the barriers preventing populations from being more active” (Flett, 2010).

FYCC offers children and their families easy access to the fun and enjoyable outdoor recreation activity of fishing by providing the setting, tools and education necessary to introduce fishing to kids who have never held a rod and encourage kids who have had some previous experience.  The additional educational activities provided by the event partners teach kids and their families the importance of conserving the natural resources upon which this outdoor recreation activity relies.  Recreational fishing has the added benefit of being an outdoor activity that can be enjoyed at any age so it is a great outdoor activity for the whole family.


FYCC : School Program – Friday, April 20, 2012, 9am to 3pm

The FYCC: School Program is designed to provide an outdoor educational experience for middle school children.  Burleigh Manor Middle (Ellicot City, MD), EL Haynes Public Charter School (Washington, DC), Monocacy Middle (Frederick, MD), North Chevy Chase Elementary (Chevy Chase, MD) are currently committed to bringing a total of 200 students.  Schools are scheduled to arrive at staggered times and move through a set curriculum with educators and mentors to teach and assist them.  Students will also have a 30 minute lunch period scheduled at an appropriate lunch time between the educational activities.

  • Casting and safety lesson (15 minutes)
  • Fishing on the C&O Canal (1 hour)
  • Environscape watershed activity (30 minutes)
  • Macroinvertibrates identification activity (30 minutes)
  • Fly-casting and fish identification activity (30 minutes)
  • Natural resource and fisheries conservation activities (30 minutes)


FYCC: Public Program – Saturday, April 21, 2012, 11am to 4pm

On Saturday, FYCC is open to the public.  Participating youth and their families will have access to the same fun educational opportunities as students.  Again, educators and mentors will be present to facilitator an enjoyable learning experience for the whole family.

In addition, the National Park Service will run a Junior Ranger Badge program and the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin will run an education activity about the history, restoration and conservation of shad in the Potomac River, including shad planking and tasting.  Both of these additional programs have proved extremely successful in the past. 

More than 400 children and their families have participated during the single day of the FYCC in the past.


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