Forestville, WI – The recently concluded National Professional Anglers Association annual conference set attendance records, entered the 2015 season with a record number of fishing and marine industries supporting partners, and raised a record amount of money for the Future Anglers Foundation. The Jan. 2-4 event held in Minneapolis also showcased numerous speakers discussing the future of the sport. The theme was, “Be Proactive and Professional.”
Executive Director Pat Neu described the NPAA goals of growing and sharing the sport, preserving the heritage, and being stewards of the resource. “Our supporting partners are the life-blood of this organization. We ended the year with 64 partners and two more major partners will come on board in the near future,” Neu said. “It’s important that NPAA members always be professional in all dealings with the public and the industry, when creating their own businesses and while interacting with their peers.”
A major NPAA out-reach continues to be the “Future Angler” (youth) events conducted by members. Education, t-shirts, tackle, rods and reels were given away in 2014 at 127 of these events conducted by 107 different NPAA members. They directly interacted with and impacted 11,211 young angler attendees and 8,617 parents.
A sister organization, the non-profit 501c3 Future Anglers Foundation, held a fund-raising banquet presented by Yamaha and Skeeter during the conference. A complete set of Walleye In-Sider magazines (18 years) and a day on the water with Al Lindner sold for $4,000 to Tommy Skarlis and Bruce DeShano. James Keller with the JJ Keller Foundation announced a grant of $10,000, plus a matching grant of $5,000 to the FAF. Banquet proceeds will be used to support angling outreach and education programs including the NPAA “Future Angler” Events.
The conference theme speaker Rick Cole, a regional Dale Carnegie training director addressed professionalism by stating that people view us four ways: 1.) What we do; 2.) What we say; 3.) How we look; 4.) How we say it. “Information must be delivered the way people want it, and most want it via social media,” he said. With studies showing the average attention span is eight seconds (12 second back in 2000), he emphasized that to interrupt a person’s thought process, deliver information the way people want it. “Trigger a response by talking about what you love – fishing – and be professional always. Put your best foot forward, uphold standards, get involved,” he said.
The second theme related speaker, Andy Buchsbaum, vice-president for Conservation Action for the National Wildlife Federation, who oversees the seven NWF regional offices in 49 states with 4,000,000 members said, “We have applied to be a formal partner of the Future Anglers Foundation and the NPAA youth events.” In addition to the widely acclaimed Ranger Rick youth magazine, the NWF conducts habitat and other programs in 7,500 schools. “We are forming partnerships that direct kids and parents to go outside, fish, camp, hike, be active,” he said. “In my generation, kids were outside all the time, now the average is 30 minutes a day for kids to be outside, but they spend an average of seven hours of screen-time daily.”
The NWF is extremely active dealing with threats to water quality such as aquatic invasive species, wetland loss, addressing and attempting to reduce nutrient run-off, algal blooms, educational programs, clean water and more.
In other conference news, Nick Schmal of the US Forest Service was presented with the “Look to the Future” award for his diligent efforts in the area of aquatic invasive species and youth programs. The Chairman of the Boards of Off-Shore Tackle Company, Bruce DeShano, was named an Honorary Lifetime Member. Sheila Sharp was recognized for her behind the scenes dedication with an Outstanding Service award. Greg Karch was named NPAA member of the year for managing the Future Angler youth events and conducting 37 events himself and helping grow the sport.
NPAA board members include; Robert Blosser- President, Mark Courts-Vice President (re-elected), Jimmy Bell, Tony Puccio and newly elected board member Stephen Picht. Neu said, “The NPAA we are poised to expand into a national association. A strategic plan is being developed by the board of directors to accomplish this goal.”
See more information about the NPAA Annual Conference at www.npaa.net .
NPAA Supporting Partners include: Advanced Tex Screen-printing, Cabela’s National Walleye Tour, The Walleye Federation, Evinrude Outboards, Fishouflage, Plano Synergy, Great Lakes Sea Grant, Lund Boat Co, Mercury Marine, Muskie Expo Chicago & Milwaukee, Navionics, Nebulus Floatation, Optima Batteries, Outdoor First Media, Pure Fishing, Ranger Boats, Skeeter Boats, Stratos Boats, Triton Boats, U.S. Forest Service, Wildlife Forever, Worldwide Marine Underwriters, Yamaha Motor Co., Alumacraft, Bait Rigs Tackle Co., DuraSafe Locks, Fish on Kids Books, G2-Gemini, Kingfisher Boats , Larson Boats, Liddle Marketing Company, Matzuo, Moonshine Lures, Motor Guide, Mutual of Omaha, National Fleet Graphics, Northland Fishing Tackle, Off Shore Tackle, Pasha Lake Cabins, Powrtran, Simms Fishing, Smooth Moves, St. Croix Rods, Strike King, Target Walleye, The Next Bite, Warrior Boats, High Tech Fishing, Fishing the Wildside, and Financial Planning Services. More NPAA news, member and association news can be viewed at www.npaa.net.