Ever heard of the Future Angler Foundation (FAF)? Some tackle and marine industry members have, but a surprising number can’t put their finger on exactly what this 501(c)(3) non-profit organization does. Fewer still realize 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 organization you haven’t heard about,” says the foundations cofounder and president, Patrick Neu. “The 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 organizations 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’d be amazed how much strategy, effort and logistical planning goes into such a major outreach program. 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 programs…but that is only part of the story. The FAF also supports and directs a massive digital outreach program that reaches tens of millions of potential new anglers and boaters each year under the “Getting Families Fishing” initiative,” says Neu. “Funding for these programs come from various sources, but at this point, there has been limited fishing and marine industry support of the 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,” states 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, the Future Angler Foundation supports volunteers and organizations hosting angling and boating educational events that contribute to an increase in participation in these activities. The 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.”
The FAF’s estimated annual budget for programs and activities breaks down as follows:
“There’s plenty more to learn about the Future Angler Foundation, 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, the 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 sportfishing and boating in American culture for generations to come.
“That,” concludes Neu,” is what we’re all about.”
To learn more about the FAF, join the organization’s mission to grow angling and boating participation through education and outreach, or make a donation to help ensure the future of recreational sportfishing and boating, visit: www.futureangler.org.