Unmasked: the ‘most important’ industry organisation no one knows about
Ever heard of the Future Angler Foundation? Some US tackle and marine industry members have, but a surprising number can’t put their finger on exactly what this non-profit organisation does.
Fewer still realise the vital role it plays in growing recreational sportfishing and safe boating across the United States.
“This may be the most important recreational fishing and boating organisation you haven’t heard about,” says the foundation’s co-founder and President, Patrick Neu. “FAF was formed in 2012 by a small group of anglers dedicated to growing participation in angling and boating.
“For over a decade now, we have teamed with educators, individuals and fishing and boating organisations throughout the country to expose potential newcomers to our sports by educating on how to catch fish, boat safely and to be conservationists.”
“Sounds simple enough, but you would be amazed how much strategy, effort and logistical planning goes into such a major outreach programme. There’s a huge educational component at the grassroots level involving passionate, knowledgeable anglers and boaters, most of whom volunteer their time for their individual programmes… but that is only part of the story.
“FAF also supports and directs a massive digital outreach programme that reaches tens of millions of potential new anglers and boaters each year under the Getting Families Fishing initiative,” says Neu. “Funding for these programmes come from various sources, but at this point, there has been limited fishing and marine industry support of FAF’s mission to create new anglers and boaters, with the majority of our funding coming from federal grants, a few foundation grants, and the general public.
“We want to do more than simply grow participation,” adds Neu. “We want to teach people introduced to angling and boating to be good stewards of the water and active participants in all aspects of the recreational fishing and boating communities.
“We hope to draw in new anglers and boaters of every age that will make fishing and boating a permanent part of an outdoor lifestyle that we believe is a critical part of living in this country.”
To that end, FAF supports volunteers and organisations hosting angling and boating educational events that contribute to an increase in participation in these activities. FAF does not run these events; rather it supports the volunteers who host them by granting them no charge rod/reel combos, angling promotional items such as T-shirts with conservation themes and angling educational literature.
“Attendance numbers at FAF-supported events prior to COVID averaged an impressive 20,000 youth and parents each year, with about 4,000 rod and reel combos plus 4,000 T-shirts donated annually. Support for and participation of 2022 events is ramping back up to meet or surpass the pre-pandemic numbers.
“All of this is just an introduction to the great work FAF carries out under the industries’ radar,” says Neu. “Ours is a real recruitment story that we are proud to share with the industry, state agencies and all who care to see angling and boating thrive in the years to come. Our mission is much more than a feel-good story. It’s real.”
“There’s plenty more to learn about FAF, its mission and accomplishments,” says Neu, “but we thought it was time to share our mission and accomplishments with the recreational sportfishing and boating communities. Our desire to share angling as a life-changing activity with future anglers and boaters – through education and outreach – remains our driving force.
“In short, FAF believes exposing non-anglers and boaters to our sports and reactivating anglers and boaters who haven’t participated recently, can solidify a place for sport fishing and boating in American culture for generations to come.
“That,” concludes Neu,” is what we’re all about.”
To learn more about the FAF visit www.futureangler.org