HECHO (Hispanics Enjoying Camping Hunting and the Outdoors) in partnership with Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the Arizona Cactus-Pine Girl Scouts, and Cartwright School District hosted its third Free Family Fishing Day at Maryvale’s Desert West Park on November 17, 2018.
More than 150 people attended the event. Game and Fish provided loaner fishing poles and tackle, supplied bait and waved standard fees for the day. Youth won raffle prizes of fishing tackle and poles and learned more about fishing and conservation activities.
Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo’s office arranged for non-profit organizations to have resource tables at the event including free dental exams and dental supplies for participants. Local Girl Scouts were also on hand to educate people on nature and conservation efforts.
Liz Archuleta, HECHO spokesperson said, “It is personally rewarding to see the community out here discovering their sense of adventure or renewing their connection to the land. I hope that by experiencing all that nature has to offer, we can help people understand the importance and urgency to protect and conserve our public lands and waterways. We used this opportunity to educate community members on the importance of permanent reauthorization of the Land Water Conservation Fund that is used to build and maintain parks and trails with no cost to taxpayers.”
Supervisor Gallardo said, “Having the opportunity to recognize opportunities for outdoor recreation, even in such a densely urban area is important. As Latinos, we must always remember our deep connection to the land. This was a great day with great partners serving the Latino community. ”
The organization 100 Black Men of Phoenix brought several of the youth from their mentorship program – many who fished for the first time that day.
Eight year old Vida Reyes is in the second grade at Encanto Elementary School in Phoenix. This was her first time fishing.
“My favorite part was the food, the fishing and making new friends,” Vida said. “It’s important to be outdoors because you can get exercise and it makes you strong and healthy.”
After her day of fishing and learning more about the importance of outdoor spaces Vida said, “I want to protect the lands because I love trees, the grass is so beautiful and luscious, the land is beautiful and trees can make fresh air and flowers make the air sweet. If we don’t protect the lands coyotes, wolves, mountain lions and chipmunks won’t have a home.”
She and her mother, Viviana Reyes, plan to spend devote their time to educating others on the value of natural spaces and camping and fishing.
Additional HECHO Free Fishing Day events included October 6 at Cesar Chavez Park in Phoenix, and November 3rd in the Coronado National Forest.