Oklahoma Department of Human Services Director Justin Brown awaits the next catch as children in foster care were treated to an evening of fishing. (Don P. Brown/ODWC)
Over the weekend, more than 30 children in foster care and their families participated in the first “Fostering Outdoor Oklahoma Families” event.
The event was part of a collaborated partnership between the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS), the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC), state Sen. Paul Rosino, the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 123 (OKCFOP), the International Association of Firefighters Local 157 (OKCFF) and the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Foundation (OWCF) brought families and children together with first-responders and Wildlife Department staff to enjoy an evening of fun, food and fishing.
The participating children each received a new rod-reel-tackle combination purchased by the OKCFF, OKCFOP and the OWCF to use at the event and take home. The foundation also gave fishing licenses to foster parents wanting to continue their families’ fishing adventures after the event.
Through the great national pastime of fishing, kids build confidence, social and emotional skills and an appreciation for nature while getting them away from technology for a while. Fishing also allows families to build closer relationships by enjoying the activity together.
“Watching our kids and families interact with local police, firefighters and ODWC staff while reeling in fish after fish was so heartwarming,” said OKDHS Director Justin Brown, who also serves as the state’s secretary of Human Services and Early Childhood Initiatives. “Events like this demonstrate the positive changes happening within communities across the state thanks these critical state and local partnerships. We are making joint responses that bring hope to Oklahoma’s children and families.
ODWC Director J.D. Strong agreed, saying, “One of the highlights of my career was kicking off this new partnership with OKDHS. There’s nothing more rewarding in life than sharing the joys of fishing with those who need more joy in their lives. This event was the launch of what we hope to spread statewide: teaching kids in foster care and their families how to reap the many rewards of getting outdoors to fish. We were truly blessed by the end of the evening.”
Rosino, an Oklahoma City Republican, said of the event: “When I dreamed of this event, I could not have imagined the amazing impact for these children and families or for our first-responders. Watching firefighters and police interact with families and giving kids such a positive experience that they will remember forever took my breath away. Every child left with big fishing stories and proud of their accomplishments for the night.”
Organizers hope this event will kick off a new statewide program offering foster families and the children in their care an activity that’s wholesome, fun and exciting to share together while growing knowledge and respect for the natural resources around them.
Families interested in learning more about foster care or applying to become a certified foster family in their community may visit okfosters.org to be connected to an area recruiter, or visit okbenefits.org to apply. Follow the prompts on the website to apply or call (800) 376-9729. Interested Oklahomans may also visit www.ourokdhs.org to join the agency’s efforts to better serve the community through innovation and collaborative partnerships.
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