Investing in Future Stewards of Michigan’s Natural Resources

Project FISH
Michigan State University

Michigan State University asks its supporters to secure the future of Project FISH, “Friends Involved in Sport-Fishing Heritage,” MSUE’s highly successful program of aquatic stewardship and sport-fishing education. Through generous giving to the fund-raising campaign for Project FISH, donors can help ensure that we can continue to provide excellent programs and enhance our many training and educational activities.

Project FISH began in 1995 with the vision of a group of MSUE faculty members, 4-H staff members, and volunteer groups led to the success of the educational program of Project FISH. The program name and its vision have fulfilled MSUE’s purpose of providing youth and adults aquatic education programs that are creative, mentor-based, and community-supported.

Project FISH has become a state and national leader in aquatic stewardship and sport-fishing education. We have developed a grassroots-led contingency of Michigan citizens interested in reaching others. We foster the stewardship of Michigan’s fisheries and aquatic resource over the long term, as well as initiate and provide fishing education and fishing skills to interested youth and adults from diverse populations in our state. Donors to Project FISH can help us preserve our natural heritage and ensures the future of sport-fishing. Giving to Project FISH will foster our programs in natural resources and environmental awareness, ethical fishing practices, fisheries stewardship, and positive developmental activities for children, families, and the community.

MSUE seeks to establish a fund of capable of providing adequate, sustained and assured funding, in perpetuity. This Project FISH Fund created through the campaign will support the Project FISH staff, volunteer support and provide continuing resources to the program to secure it for the future.

Project FISH Objectives

  • Develop in youth an appreciation of the outdoors, outdoor ethics, and interest in fishing and aquatic resources stewardship.
  • Provide youth with hands-on education in sport-fishing, as well as mentoring, and lifelong learning.
  • Introduce youth to sport-fishing as a hobby and lifetime pursuit to enjoy the outdoors and gain new skills and confidence.
  • Reach youth through clubs, schools, and sportsmen's organizations.
  • Help adults serve as sport-fishing mentors.
  • Involve teachers, adult and teen youth leaders, and retirees as mentors.
  • Help instructors develop skills to start and sustain long-term aquatic education programs in their local communities.
  • Show local teams of instructors how to use available resources that highlight accessible fishing opportunities.


Click on this link to donate securely online to The Project F.I.S.H. Fund Thank you for your tax deductible contribution.

Project FISH serves adults and youth from many diverse populations. Its programs have helped ensure the future of fishing by conserving a natural heritage that includes natural resources and environmental awareness, ethical fishing practices, fisheries stewardship, and positive developmental activities for children, families, and communities.

The program works through local, statewide and national partnerships. Project FISH coordinates networks through schools, recreation departments, sportsman clubs, service organizations, the sport-fishing industry and its retailers, volunteers, and many others. At the local level, Project FISH staff and volunteers have promoted community-based, grass-roots, education networks involving conservation partners. Since its inception, Project FISH has developed a grassroots-led contingency of Michigan citizens interested in reaching others to foster long-term fisheries and aquatic resource stewardship.

Project FISH offered its first local training workshop for volunteer mentors and teachers 15 years ago, in 1997. Soon after, Michigan hosted the second National 4-H Sport-fishing Workshop. State-level team members attended this national workshop to become trained, and even more attended

Description: Kids Ice Fishing Outing

the 1999 national workshop hosted by Texas Cooperative Extension and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. In 1998, the Project FISH program received a flagship education grant for program development and statewide deployment through the Great Lakes Fishery Trust. A full-time
coordinator was hired in 1998, and the program grew to offer its 12- to 14-hour training workshops throughout Michigan. Since then, numerous funding and programming partners, as well as our participants and volunteers, have supported the program, which has experimented with innovative business planning strategies.

The Impact of Project FISH

MSUE has surveyed volunteers trained by Project FISH to learn how well volunteers are reaching and teaching Michiganders about our programs and activities, which has helped to improve the programs and its activities for greater impact. Some of the key findings of our surveys have shown its strong effectiveness. Almost two-thirds of the respondents are teachers, so as would be expected they represent a highly educated segment of the population. More than 80% of respondents have used Project FISH to teach others. The respondents collectively reported volunteering 18,923 hours after Project FISH training. The total amount of money raised and supplies donated to the program by respondents since they were trained by Project FISH equals nearly $106,000. Since training, Project FISH volunteers had reached nearly 89,000 learners, with the topics most frequently being taught including angling skills, outdoor ethics, aquatic ecology, and tackle crafting. All of this in the first 10 years of the program as this survey was completed in 2007.

We learned that the most commonly reported barriers to taking part in Project FISH to reach or teach others include: “too busy with family obligations,” “change in my job status,” “children are busy,” and “parents are busy.” Despite these and other challenges, Project FISH has had significant impacts on program volunteers, their learners, and their communities. We have found that 77% of participants agreed that Project FISH has renewed their interest in fishing. More than 90% of






the respondents reported that Project FISH helped people understand more about the ecology of lakes, rivers, ponds, streams, and wetlands. Further, Project FISH did very well at providing tools and teaching techniques that foster positive youth development; giving learners information, skills, and motivation that helped them become more active as stewards of our state’s aquatic resources; promoting fishing as a healthy outdoor activity; and helping communities understand how important clean water is for our state.

Click on this link to donate securely online to The Project F.I.S.H. Fund Thank you for your tax deductible contribution.

Project FISH Programs

MSUE will enhance the programs of Project FISH through our fund-raising effort to secure the future of the program. Our current activities are ready to expand. With a consistent endowed funding base Project FISH will enhance educational opportunities throughout Michigan and will allow us to seek opportunities for specific outreach in underserved areas of our state. We will continue to offer our very successful work of community-based education about fish, fisheries and aquatic ecosystems through fishing. We will also continue and enhance our easy-to-access communication network (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+) that coordinates unique and diverse partners to provide mentoring and social support programming for those who wish to enhance the fishing, boating and aquatic stewardship opportunities for and participation by Michigan’s youth, families, and communities. Michigan is unique in that it is without a strategic, state-agency led Aquatic Resources Education Program designed to foster fishing, and aquatic stewardship and in the 2013-2017, 5 year plan, there is no evidence this is going to change. Efforts, instead, have been and will be fostered through community-based, grassroots programs such as Project FISH (Friends Involved in Sportfishing Heritage) and others that reach locales through place-based education networks connecting local partners.

Project FISH Training Programs focus on:

Michigan Aquatic Ecology: In this program, youth learn about the things that make our aquatic ecosystems tick by using some very interesting activities involving our Great Lakes watersheds, macroinvertebrates and neat sampling experiments designed to get them INVOLVED. Additional resources and contacts will be given to teachers for follow-up and continued support.

People and Fish: “How many fish are in that pond and what effect do I have on them?” These are the types of questions that will come up in this fish management and ethics session. What is the difference between an ethic and a regulation? Participants learn this as well as come up with your own code of ethics. They may learn more about a person by exploring his/her tackle box. Find out about Great Lakes issues and human involvement, like commercial vs. sportfishing, allocation and game laws. Participants even learn about other cultures through a series of hands on activities.

Tackle Crafting: This session gets youth making the equipment they can use to catch fish. They will use what they learned in aquatic ecology to reproduce an artificial tool for the ultimate goal of catching fish. Fly tying, jig making, snelling hooks and creating worm/crawler harness are only a few ingredients of this part of Project FISH. Each participant is given the materials for making harnesses and the knowledge to make these and other look-alikes. In addition, resources for expertise and partners will be given to all participants.

Angling Skills: This class is our central program. Youth learn how to use a fishing rod, pop-can casting, and basic skills that lead to proficiency with a variety of rod and reel types. We teach about sources of materials to get kids actively involved with fishing. They take home a fishing rod as inspiration and it becomes a learning, and teaching tool. Participants learn to clean and cook fish in all of our workshops.

Program Coordination and Stewardship: Project FISH encourages the creation of local partnership to provide additional opportunities for youth to experience the out of doors. In training programs participants are taught methods to communicate with partners, examples of other successes, and access to partners already in the program that are willing to assist. Many of these partners want to access youth to meet their goals and having connections with Project FISH is mutually beneficial.

Click to donate securely online to The Project F.I.S.H. Fund Thank you for your tax deductible contribution

Please Print and mail if you would prefer:


yes I want to invest in Michigan’s youth and natural resources.
Please accept my contribution of $ ______________ toward:

Project F.I.S.H. Fund

Name ________________________________________
Company _____________________________________
Address _____________________________________
City ____________________ State____ Zip ________
Daytime Phone (____) _________________________
Evening Phone (____) __________________________

This is a joint gift with:
_____________________________________________ (name)

Enclosed is my check payable to:

Michigan State University, Reference Project FISH Fund.

Mail to:

Project FISH Fund
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife
Michigan State University
480 Wilson Rd .13 Agriculture Hall
East Lansing MI 48824-1039