By Alexandra Stark & Staff
Those who make a living on the water are fortunate to be able to align their livelihood with their passion. Most people will never be so fortunate – many in fact, hate their jobs and the things they must do to earn their pay checks. As you are someone who is so fortunate, have you ever thought about giving back to the lifestyle and profession that has treated you so well?
In our fast paced and non-stop society, it can sometimes be challenging to take a step back and align with your philanthropic self. Taking a moment to find a cause that inspires you just might make you appreciate your lifestyle that much more. For many, giving back also just feels good. Lucky for you, the fishing and boating industry is chock full of ways that you can make a difference for the ocean, the animals that call it home and in the lives of the people around you who may not have the opportunity to experience many of the things laced throughout the glossy pages of this magazine.
Giving back can be in the form of joining a membership organization (like The Billfish Foundation) or volunteering your time and talents. It can even be something simple and easy. Outlined are a few favorites that might get you into the swing of it:
1. The Billfish Foundation – A non-profit organization that works to advance the conservation of billfish and other related species and to improve the health of the oceans and economies. This organization has a long-standing history in the community for advocating at the regional, federal and international levels for the betterment of the billfish species. TBF is also known to throw excellent parties (aka fundraisers) to support their cause – and you will not find a nicer person in the world than TBF President Ellen Peel. Check them out at www.billfish.org.
2. CAST for Kids Foundation (and other causes) – CAST provides several ways for individuals to support children with special needs all through a shared love of fishing. From supporting a fishing event in your community to volunteering yourself, the organization allows for many possibilities when it comes to making a difference in the lives of children. There are plenty of charitable tournaments in the billfish world, too. Involvement (fishing a fundraising tournament or just helping get the word out) can be a good deal.
3. Freedom Alliance – A charitable organization that supports veterans of the United States armed services. Freedom Alliance provides a number of support initiatives including scholarship funds, progressive rehabilitation services, mortgage-free houses and adventure experiences including sportfishing. Whether it’s sending a check in support of the service or a volunteering your time or boat to take veterans fishing, you might find that giving back makes you feel as good as it helps others. www.freedomalliance.org.
4. International Game Fish Association (IGFA) – The IGFA is a not-for-profit organization committed to the conservation of game fish and the promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices through science, education, rule-making, record keeping and recognition of outstanding accomplishments in the field of angling. They have regional councils and a number of ways that someone with fishing skills can be involved. www.igfa.org.
5. Hope Town United (or any other hurricane-relief program) – We’ve seen the constant destruction hurricanes have left in their path and while it may seem overwhelming when it comes to helping out there are already organizations working to rebuild that you can support. One is Hope Town United, which is working to restore Elbow Cay after Hurricane Dorian. The nonprofit has a goal to restore structures, help small businesses and bolster new construction able to withstand future storms. Of course, there are many places that could use help, whether that is in the form of directly assisting a family or donating to a nonprofit.
5. Personal interest – You don’t always need a special or formal occasion to do something good. Something as simple as taking a couple of kids fishing, even catching grunts off the dock, is a great way to share your passion. This is great for kids but can also remind you how much fun fishing can be