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"Hooked On Fishing - Not On Drugs" in New Jersey

Liz  Jackson and son fishing New Jersey's "Hooked on Fishing-Not on Drugs" Program provides a great opportunity to get kids involved in positive recreational activities. Growing up in a big city, my parents saw value in having me spend my summers outdoors enjoying nature. These experiences afforded me the chance to discover that there is more to the world and my role in it than what the concrete jungle has to offer. Likewise, the goal of this program is to introduce youth to the fun and excitement of fishing, and to engage them in meaningful life skills, so that they also can imagine unlimited possibilities for themselves.

Liz Jackson, HOFNOD Coordinator

Fishing is an activity that can be started at any age by any person regardless of gender, physical size or athletic ability. Fishing can also be enjoyed individually or with family and friends. A great way to introduce youth to fishing is through the "Hooked On Fishing - Not On Drugs" (HOFNOD) Program.

"Hooked On Fishing - Not On Drugs" is a unique, nationally recognized program created by the Future Fisherman Foundation. In 2012, Governor Christie signed legislation establishing the statewide implementation of the HOFNOD program. The legislation provided initial funding through an appropriation of $200,000 from the state's Drug Enforcement and Demand Reduction Fund. (See below for the identical State Assembly and Senate bills.)

The goal of New Jersey's program is to encourage school-aged children to avoid tobacco, drug and alcohol usage by providing alternative activities that involve learning to fish, appreciating aquatic and environmental resources, and developing positive life skills. The program will provide students with access to extracurricular outlets that utilize New Jersey’s incredible outdoor recreational assets
The NJDEP Division of Fish & Wildlife wants to partner with schools, community- and faith-based youth organizations willing to provide on-going and sustained engagement in HOFNOD activities throughout the year. The "Hooked On Fishing - Not On Drugs" program is flexible enough to be offered in different ways, such as:
  • a weekly enrichment activity in summer youth programs
  • an on-going educational physical education activity in after school settings
  • integrated into grades 4-12 school curricula
  • as a year-round supplemental activity of community-based youth organizations (e.g. Youth Corps, Boys/Girls Clubs and faith-based entities)

 

HOFNOD is an excellent way for young people to participate in constructive recreation and to develop a positive sense of self-worth. The program helps:

  • nurture self-esteem and confidence
  • develop higher order critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • reveal alternate activities for young people instead of the pitfalls of drug and alcohol use
  • foster opportunities and build skills to explore freshwater & marine careers
Kids examine sea robin on HOFNOD trip
A HOFNOD field trip: Newark's First Tee Summer Camp Program at Island Beach State Park, in partnership with Kids Outdoors and the NJ Beach Buggy Association.
Click to enlarge

During the program, students learn:

  • freshwater and marine ecosystems
  • proper outdoor ethics and being a good steward of their local environment
  • respect for themselves, others and the world around them
  • how, when and where to fish
  • life skills like preparing and cooking their catch

Adult-led lessons provide students with hands-on, real life experience and incorporate peer teaching and mentoring in the process. Guest experts can be used to teach supplemental sessions like fly tying and casting, spearfishing, introduction to SCUBA diving, kayaking and boating safety. Available funding through the HOFNOD program may be used to offset the cost of staff training & materials, fishing and program gear, and transportation for youth fishing trips.

The core message of the "Hooked On Fishing - Not On Drugs" program is that you don't need to use tobacco, alcohol or drugs to have fun! It's the type of program that not only will help reduce drug and alcohol use in youth, but will also bring families closer together by giving them an inexpensive outdoor recreation activity they can all participate in.

For more information call 908-637-4125 ext. 122 or e-mail Liz.Jackson@dep.nj.gov.

Enabling Legislation:
Assembly Bill 638
Senate Bill 178

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Department of Environmental Protection
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Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: November 17, 2014