MENTORING FOSTER CHILDREN THROUGH FLY FISHING
The Mayfly Project is a 501(c)(3) national organization that uses fly fishing as a catalyst to mentor and support children in foster care. The Mission of The Mayfly Project is to build relationships with children in foster care through fly fishing and introduce them to their local water ecosystems, with a hope that connecting them to a rewarding hobby will provide an opportunity for foster children to have fun, feel supported, and develop a meaningful connection with the outdoors.
The Value of The Mayfly Project for Children in Foster Care
How can fly fishing improve the life of a child in foster care? A quote from a caseworker from a project outing answers this question…
“I couldn’t believe the change in behavior and spirit prior to our outing with TMP and then post outing—it was night and day. The children came feeling nervous and struggling to stay positive, and then once they started participating in the project their behavior and attitude changed. Seeing the children smiling, feeling good about their accomplishments and themselves, enjoying time in nature, and excited about life, was worth more than we could have ever expected.”
The Mayfly Project is committed to our 1:1 mentor ratio when working with children in foster care because we know they value time with their mentor, and it’s the most efficient way to teach fly fishing. The memories made by celebrating successes, working through wind knots together, and giving high fives after letting go a fish, all surmount to essential experiences for our mentees.
During each project outing the children we mentor participate in our Conservation Initiative. We teach the three C’s: Catch and Release, Clean Rivers, and Contamination. Our mentees join in a cycle of healing by taking care of the waters we are privileged to experience and the fish we are honored to catch and release.
The Mayfly Project’s standard program is to mentor a foster child through five sessions we call “stages”, just like the life cycle of a Mayfly. Within these stages, the children learn line management, casting techniques, knot tying, some etymology, river safety, mending tactics, hook setting, catch and release tactics, and the value of conservation. At the end of the five stages the child is gifted their own gear to continue to pursue fly fishing.
Everyone needs an escape. For me, my escape is fly fishing. During some of the most trying times of my adult life I have used a fly rod as a coping mechanism. The river is a place where I can immerse myself in God’s creation and forget about everything but mending.
– Jess Westbrook, Founder
The Mayfly Project has developed a reward system where our kids can earn buttons by completing tasks throughout the project. Kids can also proudly display these buttons on their drawstring backpacks to show their achievements and progression through the project....
Jess graduated from Ouachita Baptist University in 2008, with degrees in Accounting and Business Administration, with an emphasis in Finance. Jess started fly fishing when he was six years old, but it was not until 2014 that it took on a new importance. ...
There is a healing property with water that has the potential to calm and the the soul. I have always had a deep love and connection with water for this reason. When I came across the website for The Mayfly Project, I knew I found the perfect fit to share my love for...