--- Issued June 17, 2014

Twenty young residents of the John E. Horan Garden Apartments, Harbor Homes and Section 8 recently participated in the Housing Authority's Annual Learn to Fish Program – also called The Mentor Youth Fishing Clinic.

This was the  eighth year for the program that teaches youths ages 7 to 14 the fundamentals of fishing, water safety and the importance of clean waters and streams.

For the first two days of the three day program, Anna Kirk, Friendship Apartments manager, introduced the children to the "safety, manners, attitude,  and the release and teach" (SMART Angler) Program. The SMART Angler Program is designed to teach youths about the types of fish found in Pennsylvania, fish habitats, safety, equipment, outdoor manners and protecting our water resources.

Parents, guardians, mentors and other family members were encouraged to participate in SMART fishing clinics.

Each child learned basic fishing skills and got to put those skills to use. John Pete, HomePlus Coordinator, as well as members of the COPPS program, also taught the children about fishing equipment and casting.

A Mentor/Youth Fishing Day was held on day three at the Rotary pavilion at Presque Isle State Park. Sixteen youths who had never fished before graduated from this year's program. Members of the COPPS Program, along with several community volunteers, spent the afternoon fishing with the youths and then treated them to a cookout. 
Those participating included at least twenty mentors from various organizations, including EarthAction, S.O.N.S. of Lake Erie officers, SafeNet, HACE Staff, representatives from the Erie County Sheriffs Department, and Erie County Adult Probation.

At the end of the third day, the young fishermen and fisherwomen were treated to a picnic prepared by mentors. The meal included fish, homemade onion rings, turkey burgers and hotdogs. 

"It always amazes me _ the number of mentors who participate in this program increases every year," said Michael Fraley, resident initiatives coordinator. "And this year we had several volunteers from past events who came back to volunteer their time again!"

Fraley and Dan Roesnner, Housing Authority assistant director, coordinate the program.

At the end of the event,  graduates were given a certificate of completion and a brand new rod and reel.