While the state legislature and Gov. Tim Walz reaffirmed Minnesota’s commitment to getting more youth – and residents of all ages - involved in the outdoors with recent legislation aimed at injecting money into schools and other areas of need to promote hunting and fishing, some groups have been doing a pretty good job of that for many years in northern Minnesota.
One great example is the Lake Vermilion Guides League, a non-profit group made up of some of the best fishermen and women in northern Minnesota.
They are the driving force behind two excellent programs held each year– “Take a Kid Fishing” and “Take a Veteran Fishing.”
Both events are aimed at promoting angling in the state with an eye toward education and an overall theme of thanks.
The 2019 “Take a Kid Fishing” event – which features area guides from the LVGL taking 100 kids fishing on Lake Vermilion for the day – will take place on Wednesday, July 17, and will originate from Fortune Bay Resort and Casino.
This year will mark the 10th anniversary.
The event is an opportunity for kids ages 10 to 15 to learn fishing skills and is open to youth of all skill levels. Those who participate get t-shirts, rod and reel combos, and more, and there is no cost to participate.
After all the fishing is done for the day there is a complimentary fish fry for parents, kids and boat operators at Fortune Bay.
More details can be found on the LVGL website.
The LVGL was formed in 2006 and has a stated mission “To foster the development and promotion of fishing and associated activities by providing the means for education, preservation and conservation of those natural resources that are important to fishing and to the enhancement of fellowship and camaraderie among fishermen and women.”
According to information on the group’s website, shortly after its formation the VGL recognized that fishing in Minnesota is a core value. The LVGL then decided that they could provide an opportunity to expose youth to the outdoor activity of angling.
Enter “Take a Kid Fishing,” an event, that according to organizers, has attracted over 1,000 kids over the past decade.
The LVGL also hosts a couple of other fishing days including “Take a Veteran Fishing.” Since the first event, over 600 veterans have taken part and last year 104 Veterans - including nine World War II vets – took part.
This year’s version takes place on Aug. 22.
And in February the group hosted an ice-fishing day for Tower-Soudan and Nett Lake 5th and 6th graders.
More details for both can be found at www.lakevermilionguidesleague.com.
Of course, the LVGL is just one example of a number of groups in in the state and northern Minnesota, made up of outdoors enthusiasts, who spend countless hours spreading their love for fishing and hunting and hiking and nature to all.
These groups have different areas they focus on and different ways of going about how they promote the outdoors, but the common theme is they are mostly all made up of volunteers who do it because they love it.
And that is pretty awesome.
ATV instructor of the year
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has named Doug Frericks, an ATV safety coordinator and instructor in Silver Bay, as the 2018 ATV safety instructor of the year.
A life-long recreational vehicle operator, Frericks has a keen understanding of the ATV trails and riding opportunities around Silver Bay. He grew up in the area, but when he returned five years ago to serve as the city’s police chief, Frericks realized quickly there wasn’t a program to teach riders about safe ATV operation.
In short order, he recruited other volunteer instructors and worked with his local DNR Enforcement Division conservation officer and regional training officer to make classes available.
“Chief Frericks has filled a valuable role in a community with many ATV enthusiasts, but that lacked an ATV safety program,” said CO David Schottenbauer, who patrols the Silver Bay area and nominated Frericks for the award. “His leadership paired with his knowledge of the community and needs of the area has fostered strong buy-in from the public.”
Frericks leads much of the instruction during ATV safety classes and also provides his personal ATVs for use during the field-exercise portion of safety training. In addition, he leads the snowmobile safety program in the area and has encouraged other law enforcement officers to become instructors. One officer, for example, is working to set up a firearms safety class in Silver Bay.
“As the local conservation officer, I could not be more grateful for his commitment and dedication to the DNR’s safety programs and our role in ensuring safe recreational use of our vast natural resources,” Schottenbauer said.
DNR conservation officers work closely with the nearly 1,000 volunteer ATV safety instructors throughout the state who deliver ATV safety training certification.