Monday, January 9, 2012

Partnering for Success in Youth Programs


Our success has really been based on partnerships from the very beginning.
- Bill Gates

In our community we are right in the middle of holding a six-month fly fishing clinic for kids. This clinic is a partnership program between University of Florida IFAS/Extension 4-H program, our local Board of County Commissioners, community fly fishing experts and local businesses. So far it has been a big success with 17 kids and about 15 adult volunteers participating.
Why is it working so well? It's working because each of the entities are doing what they do best, with a common goal. Extension is in the business of teaching, marketing and gathering kids together, not fly fishing. The local fly fishing clubs are the experts who have a love of sharing their sport, and local business also love the sport but need to stay afloat.

This is how it came together. After a some initial brain storming sessions representatives from each of the groups sat down and suggested that we each do what we do best. With some coordination, natural enthusiasm from what the possibilities may look like, and hand shakes from the committed individuals we were able to come up with a plan. The plan was that the 4-H program would announce the clinic through its normal channels, and provide the classroom teaching facilities and the groups liability insurance.
Back Country Fly Fishing Association (BCCA) was the lead "enthusiast" organization providing the expert volunteers. In addition to BCCA, the Florida Flyrod Club and the Florida Fly Fishing Association. Local business such as Captain Frank Catino pulled together some special deals from his distributors on fly rods, reels and tying equipment. Harry Goode's Outdoor Shop in Melbourne has donated supplies and promoted the event, and so has The Fly Fisherman in Titusville. Most importantly (in my honest opinion) is the fact that all of the "pros" and businesses interacting with the youth have treated the kids like young adults, by encouraging, praising successes, and politely correcting their mistakes.

I very excited to see how this clinic continues, and if it can be replicated locally and regionally with the same success. Look for future reports! 

Even though this post is related to starting a fly fishing program, the exact same model and process has been used with great success with the majority of our county outdoors programs.

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