Rotary Club of Walnut Creek Hosts Annual Fishing in the City for 3rd Graders


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May 21, 2018
The Rotary Club of Walnut Creek held its annual Spring Fishing in the City event at Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek on Saturday, April 14. Upon arriving at the pond, 52 third graders from Buena Vista Elementary (Walnut Creek) picked out fishing poles, baited their hooks, and cast their lines in hopes of snagging a trout or catfish.
“And many did,” says Rotarian John Gardner, who helped innovate the program close to twenty years ago. “We had a good catch rate this year. The kids really knew what they were doing!"
Fishing in the City is a partnership between the Rotary Club of Walnut Creek, Buena Vista School, the Department of Fish and Wildlife (which stocks the pond with trout and catfish prior to the event), and the City of Walnut Creek. Designed for children in urban and suburban areas, Fishing in the City encourages children to enjoy an outdoor activity with their parents and siblings, while learning the life skill of fishing.

"In its two decades at our school, this program has become a 'destination activity' for students when they enter the 3rd grade," says Debórah Walker, Buena Vista's K-5 science teacher. "It is a center point for our Life Science curriculum, which has included the study of animal adaptations (Fish have a lot of them to live in the water!) and habitats (What lives in the water with the fish?). Watershed studies extend on into the upper grades and this lays a solid foundation."
On the Thursday before the Saturday event, Rotarians visited the third grade classrooms to discuss fishing and demonstrate how to tie knots and bait hooks. "Then, we took all of the children out on the lawn and taught them how to cast," says Gardner. "We stayed with them until everyone had learned how to cast. So they could come to Heather Farm that Saturday knowing how to tie, bait, and cast."

At Heather Farm pond, children received a small tackle box with hooks and sinkers and bait in the form of roasted hot dogs and chicken liver. Then, they fished.

"It's very empowering because they know they can do this themselves, or with a little help from a parent," says Gardner. "This connects them with nature, giving them an opportunity to learn something they can do with their families. And this gives them a new sense of accomplishment, knowing that they can catch fish and feed themselves."

As an added service, Rotarians cleaned and prepared the fish so the young anglers could take their catch home and cook a dinner of fish that they caught themselves.

Walker notes that Fishing in the City is a completely engaging way to teach hands-on science, and it builds community in and out of the classroom, exposing youngsters to the good that adults in service can accomplish.

"Not only do they learn the life skill of fishing, but they are also encouraged to look beyond the pond to environmental conservation where we live. Over the years and the hundreds of students who have benefited from this unique partnership between Rotary, Fish and Game, and the City of Walnut Creek, students have expressed great excitement and sentiments such as 'Who knew tying knots could be so much fun?' and 'I want to do this at school every year!' We are very proud and appreciative to be partners with Rotary Club of Walnut Creek to help our kids on their paths to becoming attentive stewards and citizens."

"Fishing in the City is one of our Rotary club's favorite activities—bringing kids and their parents outdoors to share in an activity they don't do everyday," says Gardner. "It's our pleasure to be a part of that.
Rotary Club of Walnut Creek,
Pledging itself to Service Above Self, Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who come together to make positive, lasting change in communities at home and abroad. Rotary International has more than 30,000 clubs world wide and is now the largest private non-profit organization in the world. On the local level, among a wide number and variety of activities, the Rotary Club of Walnut Creek hosts student exchange programs, provides student scholarships, works with Meals on Wheels, and holds an annual Crab Feed fundraiser with proceeds donated directly back to community and international service efforts. Internationally, Rotary Club of Walnut Creek works to eradicate polio; deliver safe, healthy water to underserved communities; and provide wheelchairs to needy disabled children, teens, and adults in Central America.

Trudy Triner, President, Rotary Club of Walnut Creek