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--- Issued June 19, 2009

Fourteen youths from the YMCA Kids Club and the John F. Kennedy Center attended a three-day Learn to Fish Program sponsored by the Housing Authority as part of the 2009 Summer Recreation Program. The participants, ages 9 through 12, were from Harbor Homes and the John E. Horan Garden Apartments.

The event was held on June 9, 10, and 11.The first two days were spent studying Environmental Education, the SMART Program (Safety-Manners-Appreciate clean water-Release your catch-Teach others), tying knots and getting hands-on experience with the types of equipment used in fishing.

The third day was spent at the Rotary Pavilion at Presque Isle State Park. That day, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., consisted of a review of the materials covered in the first two days, three hours of fishing with an adult mentor, the awarding of fishing poles and reels and special gifts of lures provided by Ed Kissell and the S.O.N.S. of Lake Erie and a cookout that included grilled fish, Caribou, Elk and Moose.

Each child had a mentor-volunteer giving their time and knowledge. The mentors taught the youths about equipment, fishing techniques, the kinds of fish, and how to catch and release them from the hook and other SMART program techniques.

The Mentors were members of the community who share a love of fishing and have attended training sessions on Youth Fishing Education.

This year's mentors included:

Officers Mike Hertel and Chris Szczorek from the City of Erie Police Department; Charles Downing and Scott O'Lone from Erie County Adult and Juvenile Probation; HACE staffers Dan Roessner, Kim Preston and Mike Fraley; Tammy Johnson from SafeNet; Jude Shingle from Earth Force; Don Knappenberger and Lydia Innocenzi from the I.U. 5; Roger Gunesch from the Erie County Sheriff's Department; and Larry Weaver, who has been the cook for the event for the past 3 years.

"This is one of the most popular events of the summer for our kids, " said John E. Horan, executive director of the Authority. "It wouldn't be possible without those who volunteer their time, and for that, we give them our thanks and appreciation."