Fishing is a low cost activity that can be started at any age by any person regardless of gender, physical size or athletic ability. It is an activity that can be enjoyed with family or friends and it allows all participants to be treated as equals. A good way to introduce kids to fishing is through the Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs (HOFNOD) Program.
HOFNOD uses angling skill development as a gateway to teach youth about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and how to deal with the challenges facing them in their young lives. There is no better way to reconnect our children with nature than taking them fishing! With the help of generous sponsors, the Saskatchewan Association of Conservation Officers create, facilitate, and enable community and school based programs to design and deliver hands-on fishing experiences for all children.
In the spring of 1986, the Future Fisherman Foundation received a letter from 14 year old Mathew Deakins in Florida. Mathew said that fishing had kept him from doing drugs and he felt it could do the same for other teens like himself. He asked for a chance to share his message with other students across the country. That was the beginning of the program and today it is recognized by schools and communities as an effective drug prevention program. High quality and cost effective educational curriculums and other support materials are available to provide the necessary tools an instructor needs to effectively implement the program. The program is widely used in more than 40 states and territories across the United States and in Australia.
In the summer of 2004, The Saskatchewan Association of Conservation Officers took the initiative to provide funding for two Saskatchewan Conservation Officers to attend a HOFNOD facilitator’s course in the State of New Jersey. The intention was to have these two officers become certified instructors who could then teach other Conservation Officers and interested individuals to become HOFNOD instructors and deliver the program on a provincial scale. SACO is the only organization in Canada to be officially recognized as a partner with the Future Fisherman Foundation to commence delivery.
The HOFNOD program has two fully equipped trailers with a variety of angling equipment for kids of all ages. Conservation Officers assist in teaching kids the basics of fishing including:
- Fishing equipment
- Knot tying
- Fish Identification & Biology
Conservation Officers will teach kids these fishing skills at many venues in the province. Groups associated with this activity include: school groups, scouts, beavers, brownies, summer camps and First Nations students to name a few. Both trailers have an inventory of both open water and ice fishing equipment available for kids to use. Trailers are also equipped with ice augers, heaters, and ice shelters for variable weather conditions. The trailer and it’s equipment cannot be lent out and a Conservation Officer must be present for this equipment to be made available.