At-Risk Youths Learn Fishing Skills off Miami Beach
Mahogany Youth Corp. Hosts Outing on Biscayne Bay
For many of the two-dozen or so youngsters aboard the 70-foot charter boat, The Reward Fleet, it marked the first time they had stepped off solid ground and onto the sea, where reef fish, playful dolphins and new adventures awaited.
A day of fishing, explained Mahogany Youth Corp. Director Robert O’Bryant, was actually a reward for those kids, who delivered strong grades in the most recent round of report cards.
“You’ve got to earn the grades to earn the fishing trip,” he said. O’Bryant was pleased with the turnout—22 kids from 12 Miami-Dade Schools and three from Broward County schools.
The schools included Jose Di Diego Middle School, Universal Academy, Booker T. Washington High School, Jackson High School, Carol City High School, South Miami High School, Miami Country Day School, Miami Dade College, Matador Academy, Franklin Academy Charter School and Indian Trace. Fifteen volunteers from Mahogany Outdoors, the organization’s adult fishing club, also participated.
“Give a Child a Fish and Feed Them for a Day,” said O’Bryant, citing the organization’s mission. “Teach a Child to Fish and Feed Them for a Lifetime.”
According to O’Bryant, the Mahogany Youth Corp. took more than 2,500 youths fishing last year. He said the focus of Mahogany Youth programs centers on fishing, boating and outdoor activities. Participating in these programs builds the self-esteem, teaches important life and social skills and opens doors to potential career opportunities.
Marine wildlife artist and conservationist Dr. Guy Harvey and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) is one of a number of different organizations supporting Mahogany Youth. GHOF this year provided Mahogany Youth with a grant to continue their “Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs” program in Jose Di Diego and Richmond Heights Middle School, both located in Miami-Dade County.
For GHOF Executive Director Antonio Fins, who attended the recent fishing outing with his son, Anthony, support for the organization was especially important “because they reach kids who would otherwise not see the ocean and would grow up disconnected from our vital marine environments.”