|The 10th annual Urban Kids Fishing Derby hosted by Urban American Outdoors in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by Katie Steiger-Meister/USFWS.|
On June 20, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assisted Urban American Outdoors and Kansas City Parks with the 10th Annual Urban Kids Fishing Derby in Kansas City, Missouri.
The morning sun was out and the temperature creeping from warm to hot as more than 200 children and their families arrived at Spring Valley Park in Kansas City, Missouri ready for some summer fishing fun. Hosted by Urban American Outdoors and Kansas City Parks and Recreation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was on-hand to assist. Director Dan Ashe, Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius and staff from Neosho National Fish Hatchery participated in the fishing derby and monarch butterfly activities.
The event began with Wayne Hubbard, host of Urban American Outdoors, welcoming participants and partners. As part of the opening remarks, Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, presented honorary Kansas City Monarch jerseys to Dan Ashe, Wayne Hubbard and Assistant to the Director of Kansas City Parks, Mark Bowland. A handful of lucky participants were then chosen to help the new honorary Monarchs plant a butterfly garden by the fishing derby pond. By 9:00 a.m. the plants were in the ground and the first hooks were in the water as kids got down to business and started fishing. By 9:05 a.m. the first fish was being pulled from the water and screams of shock and delight from children could be heard echoing across the pond.
Staff from Neosho National Fish Hatchery and members of their friends group were a pivotal part of the day, stocking the pond with channel catfish from Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery in Oklahoma and bringing dozens of fishing rods and boxes of bait to share with participants. Project Leader Dave Hendrix, fishery biologist Roderick May, education specialist Bruce Hallman, maintenance mechanic Raymond Villa and members of their friends group helped introduce numerous kids to the fun of fishing.
Monarch Watch also participated in the event. Executive Director Chip Taylor and a handful of staff and volunteers set up a tent where kids and their families could see live monarch butterflies, caterpillars and pupas. They also provided seed packets for participants interested in starting their own butterfly gardens.
Whether it was a catfish on their hook or caterpillar on their hand, the event helped hundreds of Kansas City children experienced the thrill of being outdoors and interacting with nature. With downtown Kansas City only minutes away, the event underscored that kids don’t have to go far to start playing in nature.