What is the Florida Fishing Academy?
The Florida Fishing Academy (FFA) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization formed in 2006 for the purpose of empowering at-risk youth with positive life skills, alternatives to destructive or antisocial behavior and a sense of responsibility for shaping the world around them. FFA uses fishing and other water sports as a vehicle for delivering these lessons, weaving effective life, environmental and social skills into a youth-oriented, hands-on educational programs through youth camps and field trips.
How does the FFA work?
In Florida, anglers outnumber golfers 2 to 1, and 85 percent of the fishing public picks up a rod and reel for the first time at the age of 12 or younger. Fishing, snorkeling and kayaking fascinate kids. Our programs tap into that passion, using fishing and other water activities to arm our students with new skills, a sense of accomplishment, self-esteem and a desire to protect our natural resources. Participating in fishing-based programs also makes them more open to other areas of instruction, especially after participating in the academy’s Botvin Lifeskills Training Program. This program has been proven to reduce the use of tobacco by 87%, alcohol by 60%, marijuana by 75% and other drugs by 68%, while also reducing school delinquency, sexual misbehavior and violence, according to results published by the American Medical Association (AMA).
What makes the FFA different from similar organizations?
While a number of valuable and effective programs target at-risk kids, FFA uses an asset that is available to everyone: Florida’s spectacular marine world. You can’t drive far in Florida without spotting a fisherman, a boat or a large body of water. Fishing and the water are part of the fabric of Florida, and there is not a more effective way to introduce our youth to a richer and more productive life. Our program capitalizes on these natural resources to engage children — tomorrow’s anglers, boaters, marine biologists and environmental stewards — in fishing as a sport and livelihood, while involving them in the effort to preserve our fragile marine environment. Since our inception, the FFA has used this technique to hook well over 8,000 kids throughout Palm Beach County.
What are the FFA goals for the future?
Our goal is to increase access to our programs by 1,000 kids per year.
This year, FFA will engage and instruct 2,000 local youths.
2016 goal: 3,000
2017 goal: 4,000
2018 goal: 5,000
How can you make a difference with the FFA?
Documented evidence shows that every $1 spent redirecting disadvantaged youth saves $25 in costs that would be spent on the criminal justice system. Your contribution will be put to work engaging, inspiring, educating and positively redirecting at-risk, disadvantaged and handicapped youth in Palm Beach County. The direct effect will be a reduction in the local crime rate, unemployment, teen pregnancy, drug use and youth violence, improving the safety of the neighborhoods and streets right here at home.