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Avid anglers love assisting youth on Community First Free Fishing Day

Volunteers help share the joy of fishing at Menasha’s Jefferson Park; bait, rods and reels provided at family-friendly event

Friday, July 19, 2019

Avid anglers Kevin Schmidt and Jeff Schweitzer are hooked on helping out at the Community First Free Fishing Day.

Schmidt, who joined Community First Credit Union in January, and Schweitzer, who started 21 years ago, both considered it a privilege to volunteer and share their expertise along with other Community First colleagues and a few family members.

“To have the opportunity to spend time with kids who don’t normally get to fish was a true pleasure,” said Schmidt, who helped successful fishermen measure their catch and then release them back to the waters off Jefferson Park in Menasha. “To see the smiles and excitement in their face when they caught a fish was priceless. I’m already looking forward to next year!”
“This is always such a positive, uplifting event and to see the smiles and delight of the children actually catching fish makes this as enjoyable for the volunteers as well as the participant,” said Schweitzer.

“We were there to help set up, untangle fishing lines, answer questions and other miscellaneous help,” said first-time volunteer Alexa Doering. “It was a fun volunteer opportunity.”

The June 1 event was again hosted by officials with Heckrodt Wetland Reserve and Menasha Park & Recreation and designed for youth ages 2-12 and their families. It kickstarts Wisconsin’s free fishing weekend and all bait, rods and reels are supplied free of charge to provide a positive experience for youth.

Other Community First volunteers who helped bait hooks, remove, measure and release fish as well as taking photos and supporting youth participants on the cool and blustery day included Danielle Butts and Hailey Krol.

Heckrodt and Menasha officials believe fishing encourages families to spend time together, creates an awareness of natural resources and enhances the desire to protect environmental areas and public access sites.

“There was a bit of rain but everyone’s spirits stayed elevated and we all had a blast,” said Chris Langenfeld, Heckrodt director of development. “There was even a 23-inch walleye that was caught!”

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