The first time LaShaun Taylor brought her son and granddaughter to a Fishing Club event at the Urban Ecology Center’s Washington Park branch, her son, who is six, was crestfallen when the outing ended before he was able to catch a fish. That was all forgotten after the family’s second visit when he succeeded in catching and releasing five fish in one afternoon.
Each time they attend a Fishing Club meeting, LaShaun said recently, the children are learning “to encourage one another, practice good sportsmanship, and put the faith in themselves,” on top of a new life skill and a clearer understanding of humans’ role in food processes. LaShaun herself doesn’t fish, but her father passed his fishing knowledge onto his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and she wants to make sure her family upholds his legacy.
Jerica Fehr, this summer’s Fishing Intern—or F’intern—at the UEC, said recently that it’s been fun watching and encouraging the family’s enthusiasm for fishing. “I love it when families come back” weeks in a row, she said. “Now they’re like professionals.”
LaShaun is a teacher at an elementary school in the Milwaukee Public Schools system, and she’s long been familiar with our Riverside Park branch, which she visits with her students on field trips. She learned about the Fishing Club while she was browsing the UEC website for camps and other summer activities for her family. She hadn’t visited Washington Park until this summer, but she said her family has been taking advantage of the trails and playground after their fishing outings and that she’s looking forward to future trips there.
Other Fishing Club attendees have built a welcoming and supportive community for LaShaun and her children. “It’s not just [UEC] staff,” she said, who “will talk to you and congratulate you [...] you can feel the community coming together.”
Members of the fishing community confide in Jerica that fishing brings them peace, calm, and a feeling of communion with nature as well as with each other. “It’s a relaxing thing,” Jerica said, on top of providing “a sense of community and friendship.”
The Fishing Club has “made a great impact by having this program available for those of us that don’t get out to fish,” LaShaun said. “My son would never have fished, or learned how to this year, without this program.”
Jerica urges community members who are interested in joining the Fishing Club to “just show up.” They only need to bring a desire to “have some fun; try something new. We’re up here; we have poles; we have the gear; we’ll teach [you] everything [you] need to know.” She added that fishing is something that LaShaun’s son and granddaughter “can take with them their entire life.”
While our fishing adventures may have come to a close this summer, the great outdoors still beckons with a world of excitement and exploration. Check out our upcoming programs and see you outside!