Flylords caught up with Heather Harkavy, Director of Development and Student Programs of Fish For Change. A new and thriving nonprofit using fly-fishing as a platform to make the world a better place by uniting a diverse group of students in wild fisheries where they engage in a variety of initiatives that promote Connection, Education, Conservation, and Exploration. Learn more about the organization in the interview below.
Flylords: What is Fish for Change?
Heather: Fish for Change is a nonprofit organization that offers international fly fishing programs to a diverse group of students. Initiatives include mangrove restoration, teaching english as a second language, community art projects, trash clean ups, and more. Our goal is to create a generation of conscious anglers who use fishing as a platform to change the world. Throughout the course of the program, students integrate with local communities and work together in local and global initiatives.
Flylords: Can you tell us a little more about each program?
Heather: Guanaja, Honduras: Students learn all elements of saltwater fly-fishing in a very diverse fishery, preparing them to fish anywhere in the world. In addition to fly-fishing students snorkel, dive, paddle-board, and explore Guanaja, deepening their understanding and appreciation of the resources. Service projects flourish during slack tides while students plant mangroves, teach in schools, participate in community art projects and more. The local community collaborates with students on all projects as everyone unites to Fish for Change.
Abaco, Bahamas: The Fish for Change Abaco program brings life to the island of Abaco as well as to the students involved with one of the top bone-fisheries in the world. Alongside Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, students will have the opportunity to tag and track some of our favorite sport fish while also being educated on proper tagging, handling, and angling techniques.
Fish for Change Abaco will partner with two non-profit organizations during the week: Austin Serving Abaco and Friends of the Environment. Austin Serving Abaco works to provide kids in the community with education and a sense of hope. Friends of the Environment works with local kids to teach them about conserving and protecting the ecosystem of the island.
Campeche, Mexico: Fish for Change Campeche program is a unique and strong culturally based experience in Mexico. Based out of Campeche Tarpon lodge, students will have the opportunity to fish in one of the healthiest tarpon fisheries in the world in pursuit of baby tarpon ranging from 5 – 60lbs.
Students have the opportunity to gain a strong cultural understanding of the community. They will be visiting Edzna City and Campeche’s Historic Downtown to learn about the Mayan culture and history of this location. As well, students will have the opportunity to fish for Octopus and prepare local dishes with the locals.
Black Canyon, Colorado: Students learn to teach fly-fishing to adaptive anglers while fly-fishing through the Black Canyon. After floating the Gunnison, students head to the Colorado Mountain College in the Roaring Fork Valley where they base for engaging with Colorado Adaptive Angler and the Roaring Fork Conservancy.
Students spend 4 days teaching fly-fishing and working on service projects in the Roaring Fork Valley and finish the course by fish-floating the Colorado River with professional guides.
Flylords: How can someone participate in a student program?
Heather: We are offering programs this upcoming summer at Fly Fish Guanaja, Abaco Lodge, Campeche Tarpon Lodge, and Colorado. If you are a high school student interested in participating in a program you can apply here.
Flylords: How can someone help your mission?
Heather: Donating to Fish for Change helps to fund scholarships for state-side students as well as students from our hosted communities to participate in our life altering programs. Donations will also go towards the outreach projects we are running, from mangrove restoration to research and fish tagging.
Photo credit: Erikson Corbin, Mang Gear
If you are interested in donating or participating in one of our programs check out www.fishforchange.org or throw us a follow at @fishforchange. Thanks for staying tuned!!