Zoey and Zane Guier carefully boarded the six-seat fishing boat Thursday afternoon.
It was the first time the Burbank siblings received a chance to navigate the Columbia River waters on a fishing adventure.
“I think there are a lot of valuable lessons (students) can learn in nature,” said fishing guide Jacob Munden, who owns Mundenn’s Rising Son Adventures. “Almost every kid that I’ve taken out, this is their first experience.”
The Guiers are two of about 50 participants in a new program Munden created aimed at helping Burbank students take a guided fishing trip.
Munden teaches agricultural science at Kahlotus High School and sees youth becoming disconnected with nature on a daily basis.
“It’s the ‘IT’ era, and we’re losing touch with some of the opportunities in the great outdoors,” he said.
Also, some families cannot afford to go fishing. A trip on one of Munden’s guided tours can cost $175 to $200 per seat.
But Munden has wanted to give children a chance to get onto the river since starting his guide service two years ago.
I think there are a lot of valuable lessons (students) can learn in nature. Almost every kid that I’ve taken out this is their first experience.
Jacob Munden, fishing guide
When he saw a Three Rivers Community Foundation grant program specifically aimed at helping Burbank youth, he found a way to give back to the small town in western Walla Walla county where he grew up.
“Despite being a first-time applicant, we were so impressed with Jacob’s passion for both fishing and the kids that we had no trouble supporting the program,” said Carrie Green, the foundation’s executive director.
After receiving the $5,000 grant, Munden went to the Burbank community and told them about his plan at an informational meeting at Columbia High School.
When the families asked what was the catch, he essentially responded: fish.
“You put your name down, and I’m going to take you fishing,” he said.
It’s easy for the kids, fun and hard fighting. A lot of these kids don’t know which end of the fishing pole to hold. It’s just a good starter for them.
Jacob Munden, fishing guide
His goal for this year is to lead 10 trips from the Umatilla boat launch. The catch of the moment is shad, a herring that swims up the river to spawn.
“It’s easy for the kids, fun and hard fighting,” he said. “A lot of these kids don’t know which end of the fishing pole to hold. It’s just a good starter for them.”
On some of the trips, they use the shad as bait to catch sturgeon.
He spends a few hours leading the youth to fishing spots.
“One of the things that I learned real quick is that kids don’t last a whole eight or 10 hours on the boat,” he said. “I take the kids where I think we’re going to have the most success.”
For the duration of trips, the youth stow their cellphones and focus on enjoying the great outdoors.
He is planning two more trips this summer, and wants to continue and possibly expand the program next year.