This has been the best experience of my whole life!

Foster Child

Texarkana, Arkansas Project

Texarkana, Arkansas Project

Lead Mentor: Matthew Bearden

Project location: Hope/Texarkana, Arkansas

Year project founded: 2017

Mentors on this team: 9

Children mentored to date: 21

Children to be mentored in 2022: 8-10

Local foster care partners: Watersprings Ranch in Texarkana, AR

Local partners and companies that support this project: Enable Midstream and New Liberty Baptist Church (Emmet, AR), Bearden Family, Fant Family

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Texarkana, Arkansas Project

It’s less about whatever skill level we have as fly fishermen or our ability to teach another person to throw a perfect loop and more about the positive impact we can have on their life. That lasting impact comes from time invested talking, listening, laughing and just hanging out. Being a friend, a good human… it really is that simple. The hard exteriors start softening up and the mentees start to be able to just be a kid again.

Matthew Bearden

Lead Mentor, SW Arkansas Project

Project Mentors

MATT BEARDEN, LEAD MENTOR

Hope, Arkansas

Matt grew up in a small town in southwest Arkansas, and with several lakes and the Ouachita National Forest just a few miles away, he spent a lot of his youth outdoors. He was introduced to fly fishing by his grandfather at a young age, and while he admits he may not recall much about those first instructions, the interest has never gone away. Matt enjoys spending his free time these days fly fishing on the Little Missouri River.

He hopes that through mentoring with TMP he will be able to spark an interest in young people in the same way. Matt is excited to help introduce them to something that will encourage them to get outdoors, explore, and enjoy all that spending time on the water has to offer.

KIM BEARDEN, MENTOR

Hope, Arkansas

Born and raised in Southwest Arkansas, Kim returned to this area after college. Kim’s father enjoyed bass fishing, and she spent lots of time with her father and brother on area lakes, ponds, and rivers while growing up.

She is a dental hygienist in Hope, Arkansas, and she enjoys helping others through different volunteer opportunities associated with her profession. But, when away from work, Kim enjoys being outdoors. She feels that being outside allows her time to clear her mind, refocus, and refuel herself. These reasons are exactly what made her decide to be a Mayfly Project Mentor.

“I want to be able to share the benefits of fly fishing with these kids. Hopefully they will find it as fun and relaxing as I do.” -Kim

AUSTIN MORACE, MENTOR

Texarkana, Arkansas

Austin’s hometown of Trout is seated squarely in rural LaSalle Parish in central Louisiana, far from any actual trout. He was first introduced to fly fishing as a young boy by his father. He quickly became captivated with the sport. Spending many hours creekside and on pond banks he “honed” his skills on bream, white perch and bass. During his time at college he received an internship opportunity in Hope, Arkansas. Here Austin met Matt Bearden, a fellow Mayfly Mentor, who invited him to go fly fishing at the Little Missouri River. After a few not so productive trips, Austin finally caught his first trout in the Summer of 2017. Since then Austin has graduated and moved to Texarkana and is pursuing a career at the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

He now strives to learn everything he can about; trout, trout fishing, fly tying, conservation, and a continued respect for the trout and the beauty of The Natural State.  Austin is elated to have the opportunity to introduce other children to the joy that is fly fishing and to be able to positively impact a community that has welcomed him with open arms.

RUSTIN REYNOLDS, MENTOR

De Queen, Arkansas

A southwest Arkansas native, Rustin was raised camping and fishing on De Queen and Gillham lake. He spent many vacations camping for weeks and spent many days and nights fishing on a boat with his dad and grandfather. He was able to learn the skills needed to catch nice fish. He also enjoys taking people new to outdoor experiences hunting, fishing, hiking, or anything they have not experienced. He has such a passion for being outdoors and likes to see others share in that passion. TMP is doing just that, by introducing these children to a new experience outdoors. He was given his first fly rod when he was 12 years old and has just recently picked up on it. As an adult, he is wanting to experience new things and show his kids there is more out there. After finding The Mayfly Project, Rustin has found more areas to fly fish and hopes to teach his kids more about it. He took great pride in seeing his 7-year-old daughter catch her first fish on a fly rod. He is excited to share that joy with the other children associated with The Mayfly Project. His parents helped raise foster children and he is glad to help give back to these children.

ZACHARY FANT, MENTOR

Hope, Arkansas

I was born here in Hope, Arkansas and raised pretty much everywhere, but in the teen years of life I grew up here in Hope spending most of my time in the outdoors playing sports hunting and fishing with my adoptive parents. As I become an adult and my high school sports career came to an end. I got into the sport of powerlifting and have reached the elite level in the sport, I own a gym called Chalk Zone Powerlifting, I’m also the youth leader at White Oak Grove missionary Baptist Church in DeAnn Arkansas. I believe in helping others who are less fortunate and giving a lending hand to all of those who need help. I hope my experience growing up and even having to go through the foster care system will allow me to relate with the kids, and even understand what they are going through. If I’m able to have a positive impact on just one child’s life all my efforts will be more than worth it. 

 “ Good better best never let it rest until you’re good as better and you’re better as best ”

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Southwest Arkansas Texarkana Project

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