This year’s fishing event kicked off with an introduction from Loretta, ELK’s Executive Director. ELK has hosted this event (in person) for 17 years. She shared photos and memories of students fishing, learning, and laughing from years past. Then Nizhooni, ELK’s Assistant Urban Ranger Coordinator and the virtual event’s master of ceremonies, guided young viewers through fishing and wildlife basics. Her “Ethical Angling” talk was particularly close to Mercy Housing’s heart as it stressed the importance of showing respect, and to always share with others your knowledge and skills.
It was Malik Wilder of Fishing for Hip Hop’s turn next. He lit up the screen with infectious enthusiasm and optimism. His family inspired him to start fishing and reinforced how important it is to lead your life with love and kindness. Fishing is how he says he learned good traits like patience. “I wanted these kids to take away something that they could cherish for the rest of their lives … all walks of life can enjoy fishing and the outdoors.”
After the Q+A with Malik, he took time to talk about equity and equality in our country’s parks and protected lands, urging everyone to “treat others as you would like to be treated,” and that “respect is essential on and off the water.”
Malik wants kids to learn the skills, values, and fun of fishing so that they can pass it on to the next generation.
The Cast A Line partners wanted to make sure that families have what they need to fish in the future. All participants could pick up a free rod and reel at a safe, socially-distanced location. There was even a raffle give-away for a free fishing trip with Malik Wilder himself, as well as State Parks passes.
We would like to offer a very special thanks to ELK, Malik, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife for their support. Events like these are so important for youth. Finding ways to recreate in nature and learn lifelong skills helps kids — making families happy, homes healthy, and neighborhoods stable.