This has been the best experience of my whole life!
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: 16
Children to be mentored in 2020: 8-10
Local foster care partners: Watersprings Ranch in Texarkana, AR
Local companies that support this project: Enable Midstream and New Liberty Baptist Church (Emmet, AR)
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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.
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.
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
Randy grew up on the waters of the little Missouri river, from Albert Pike to the tailwaters of Lake Greeson where he still lives today. Randy is a bit of a jack of all trades, spending time as a hunting guide in New Mexico and Colorado, he started his fly fishing career catching brookies in the Rockies. As an avid outdoorsman, he taught rock climbing to kids while backpacking in Colorado.
Randy has a passion for conservation, beginning with his time working as a wildlife officer for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Now Randy spends his time working for the Arkansas State Parks, leading kayak programs, teaching fly fishing to the park guests, and educating the public on the outdoors.
Randy is a father of two little girls and hopes to provide the same happiness and joy to the kids of the mayfly project. Working with kids has always been a part of His life and is excited to do it with a past time he loves, fly fishing.
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.
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.
News & Events
TMP Founder, Jess Westbrook, is honored to speak with Dave Steward of Wet Fly Swing Podcast recently! Jess Westbrook shares the amazing stories behind the Mayfly Project that he created to help foster kids change their lives with fly fishing. Today, we find out what...
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Thank You!!! Together, WE DID IT! We hit our goal on Tuesday! For our National Project online, we raised $14,000! For our individual project fundraisers we hit over $20,000!!!! This year, many of our lead mentors, mentors, and friends, all did Facebook fundraisers to...
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Southwest Arkansas Texarkana Project