'Fishin' Buddies' hooks children on nature, green living

July 15, 2011 (CHICAGO)

John Kidd Junior spent 36 years teaching automotive and business classes to city college students and he is still driven to instruct. But now, he has moved his classroom outdoors and is literally allowing nature to take its course. Kidd is using fishing to teach the next generation to live green.

"Everything starts with patience. It's discipline, consistency, everything that we say a perfect person needs to be, it's sitting there on that bank just waiting for you to understand what it's about. And once they master some of these things, it helps them in their everyday activities," Kidd said.

Kidd started Fishin' Buddies in 1991 with the help of family members and a few friends. The idea was to lure the children with the fun of fishing. Once they are hooked - the mentors could sneak in lessons about the environment, conservationism and even life.

"We wanted to capture the minds of the young kids and we knew it was fishing. Minority kids don't have an opportunity to do the things that other kids do in this country, but we knew fishing was that catch-all," Kidd said.

The group works with specialists from the Cook County Forest Preserves to teach courses ranging from the particulars of wildlife to the importance of chemical balance in our wetlands.

But students who have been around for a while say the program yields so much more.

"Every time you're around Mr. Kidd, he'll tell you about life. He'll tell you the wrong or the right things you're doing. If you're making a bad decision, he'll let you know," Angelesha Jones said.

"The program is important because it motivates the kids to be outdoors rather than just sitting at home and playing video games," Edna Godinez said.

"A lot of leaders now don't really know too much about the environment, so they don't really care. And to me, the next group of leaders will know much more about the environment and will care," George Lopez said.

And for Kidd, having more young people care about the environment and work to protect it makes his efforts worthwhile.

"This is just something we feel is important. Something we're here to do," Kidd said.

Saturday July 16th all children will have the opportunity to sample a bit of "Fishin' Buddies." The group is hosting its annual Kids Fest in South Suburban Lansing. Children can try out activities like camping, kayaking, archery. . . and of course, fishing. And it's all free. Find out more at http://www.fishin-buddies.net and www.fpdcc.com.

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