Communities are casting into summer by participating in the Wildlife Department’s free fishing clinics. Saturday, June 4, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation taught members of Wings, a special needs community, basic fishing skills at Dolese Youth Park in Oklahoma City.

“These kids know they’re different and deal with it day to day, so Wings partners with different organizations to organize fun activities,” said Kathe Russ, Wing’s parent. “We weren’t going to stay, but we came and it’s so addicting, you don’t want to leave.”

Wings partnered with Whistling Wind to host the Department’s Aquatic Resource Education Program (AREP). Whistling Wind is a 501(c)3 non-profit, whose mission is to promote accessible recreation and sport to individuals and families living with disabilities.

“We strive to help parents find healing therapy outdoors and make it readily available with handicap accessibility,” said Shari Zimmerman, co-founder of Whistling Wind. “It is difficult to find a body of water that is easily accessible.”

Wildlife Department employees taught Wings members, parents, and volunteers fishing safety, how to tie an improved cinch knot, casting technique, and outdoor ethics. It was the first time for many of these young adults to fish, but many experienced a catch and release.

All AREP clinics consist of an educational component that teaches basic fishing techniques and are typically followed by an opportunity to fish at a nearby pond or lake. Certified volunteer instructors or Wildlife Department employees conduct the clinics.

The Wildlife Department promotes the sport of fishing and aquatic resource awareness and gives various ages an opportunity to learn about Oklahoma’s aquatic environments and how to fish because the agency knows fishing improves peoples’ quality of life.

For more information or to schedule an Aquatic Resource Education clinic visit wildlifedepartment.com or contact Damon Springer, Aquatic Resources Education coordinator, at (405) 521-4603 or dspringer@odwc.state.ok.us.

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