Ice fishing educates and brings community together

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Various sponsors around Utah teamed up at Strawberry Reservoir for a fun-filled event which included ice fishing, raffles and free food on Saturday, Jan. 26.

Every year around this time, the lakes and rivers of northern Utah freeze over and provide thick enough ice for people to gather and ice fish. There were hundreds of tents out as families and friends huddled together to fight the wind. However, the weather didn’t seem to hinder the fun.

Duane Kniskern of Pine Bush, N.Y. ices fishes on Glenmere Lake in Florida, N.Y., during a snow squall. (AP Photo)

Strawberry Reservoir is the number-one fishing destination in Utah and provides fishing and other wildlife experiences year round.

Through donations, United Wildlife Cooperative sponsored a group of about 50 kids from the Boys and Girls club of Utah Valley and provided transportation to the reservoir along with lessons on how to ice fish. At the end of the long day, each boy and girl received a free fishing pole to encourage future outdoor experiences.

Jason Lowe, director of marketing for United Wildlife Cooperative, believes it is crucial to educate everyone on outdoor conservation and how to fully take advantage of nature.

It’s about people having the experiences and sharing it with others,” Lowe said.

Lowe isn’t the only person who believes beneficial outdoor experiences can be in a young person’s life.

Scott Root, conservation outreach manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, strongly believes in involving children in outdoor events such as ice fishing.

“It’s a unique experience,” he said. “It’s something that is worth doing.”

Root and Lowe believe that today’s kids spend too much time inside or with different forms of electronics. Getting to know nature and experiencing that interaction with wildlife can be very beneficial for many reasons.

Chadwick Greenhalgh and his nine-year-old son were out on Strawberry Reservoir for their very first ice fishing experience. Despite the overcast temperature, Greenhalgh said, “Anytime you can get a big group out here it makes it a lot more fun!”

Involving the community by making it a free event and providing food kept spirits high. KSL’s Adam Eakle was covering the story even as he volunteered to take the “polar plunge,” which involves jumping into the freezing temperatures of the lake, if United Wildlife Cooperative received enough donations.

Thanks to high-powered augers that drilled through ten inches of ice, everyone seemed to enjoy their time, and some were lucky enough to catch fish.

After tips and tricks were demonstrated at the ice fishing clinic, ice rescue techniques were shown to the community to increase overall ice awareness. Educating people, as well as raising money for further education efforts, made this day a success.

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