Hooked on Fishing - Not on Drugs 

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Program Overview

A Kid's Idea
Credit for Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs goes to a 14-year-old.

Matthew Deakins wrote a letter to the Future Fisherman Foundation in 1986 to say he had avoided drugs in part because he spent so much time fishing. He wrote that he thought fishing could help other kids, too.

Girl catching fishHis thought was the seed that started HOFNOD.

Today’s national HOFNOD program helps kids develop skills for life. They learn to be patient, set goals, solve problems, make decisions and improve self-esteem. HOFNOD also connects kids with strong role models.

HOFNOD in Arkansas is a product of Amendment 75, which created the 1/8-Cent Conservation Sales Tax in 1996 for four state agencies, including the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The AGFC brought HOFNOD to Arkansas in 1997 with guidance from the Arkansas Department of Education. Today, HOFNOD students learn about aquatic life, the importance of clean waterways, conservation and stewardship – they also get to go fishing.

Good Side Effects
Along with educational benefits, HOFNOD helps teachers reach kids in unexpected ways.

“HOFNOD has been a tremendous motivator for students,” said Jeff Courtway, a coach at Fayetteville’s Holt Middle School. “We base field trips on positive attitude and work ethic, and the kids show great improvement in those areas. What a delight it is to see them get so excited!”

Extra Credit
HOFNOD is a school-based program designed to support fishing clubs in the schools. The curriculum is aligned to the Department of Education standards.

Quotes from Participants

  • "Parents are very enthused about participating. We also have lots of others that come to help. Some of these people would not normally come to school for any event, so it is a great benefit for the students and the school."  ~ Judy Harmon, teacher - Oak Grove Elementary School              
  • “HOFNOD teaches students about fish and their habits, and promotes local conservation projects involving students with responsible citizens.” ~ Dave Hunt, coach - McNair Middle School (Fayetteville)     
  • “I am a big supporter of this program. It has improved our test scores for life science and helped students realize the importance of environmental stewardship.” ~ Kathy Rusert, teacher - Acorn High School                                  
  • “I love to hear students talking about the hands-on exercises and events. They are still excited about previous activities. It’s nice to know they are sharing great stories about school events. That tells us we have discovered a worthwhile program.” ~ Amy Westfall, counselor - Murfreesboro Elementary 

How to Start a Fishing Club

Teachers are vital to getting kids involved in the outdoors. You may hold the key to changing a child's life. This video reveals lessons learned by teachers just like you. It features tips and secrets to starting a successful fishing club at your school.

First, send a teacher to a HOFNOD workshop to learn how the program works. Submit a school administrator’s endorsement of the local HOFNOD program.

Next, start a school fishing club with elected officers. Get help from local sponsors and volunteers.

Complete activities using HOFNOD materials. Report these activities to the HOFNOD coordinator. 

Program Staff

NameTitlePhone | Email
Dawn CookHOFNOD Program Coordinator501-680-0183 | Email