Fishers of Kids Academy
by Ron Presley
Samantha Gay’s love for fishing led her to share that love with others. She is an avid angler and founder of Fishers of Kids Anglers Academy (FOKA).
The mission of her organization is to provide free fishing gear and experiences to at-risk youth in the community. It has expanded to help youth anglers in North Carolina and all over the United States. Her goal is to offer youth participants a positive alternative to life’s challenges through fishing. It all started in Green County, NC in the same school system that she attended as a child.
“As an educator in Greene County, NC, I was all too aware of the issues that faced the children of this community,” reported Samantha. “Greene County is a rural area, where over half of the population lives in poverty. It is surrounded by gang violence and drug activity. I decided I wanted to do something positive within my community and introduce the kids to fishing. So I decided to start the Fishers of Kids Anglers Academy.”
She began the program in May of 2015 and was granted 501c3 status in February of 2018. During those three years, she held fishing camps for students at the school where she was employed.
“Thanks to donations from fishing companies, I was able to send rod and reel combos, fishing line, and baits home with every child in attendance,” offered Samantha. “I hoped that this equipment would help the kids continue fishing. I also started a junior and high school fishing team during this time and had teams earn the opportunity to compete in national championship tournaments in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Idaho.”
She used donations collected through fundraisers FOKA to pay for these events, and the gear needed to ensure the young anglers could compete. The onset of COVID slowed down most of the nonprofit’s activities but thankfully, things are getting back to normal.
Samantha continues to carry out coaching/advising tasks for the junior and high school fishing teams. She has also paired up with the local 4-H to host summer fishing camps for the kids of Greene County.
Outdoor Writer/Photographer Ron Wong met Samantha Gay at a Bassmaster Classic several years ago where they became friends and he ultimately became a board member of Fishers of Kids.
“Although Samantha is an avid bass fisherman, she enjoys fishing for other species,” Wong stated about his friend. “More importantly, Samantha has a deep passion for fishing and she wants to introduce kids and women to the sport. I am honored to serve on her board of directors.”
Editors Note: CatfishNow is pleased to recognize and thank Samantha Gay for creating the Fishers of Kids Anglers Academy. It is a positive way to use fishing to make an impact on her community.