“I Love Fishing. They Taught Me in School.”

How often would you expect to hear this from a 10-year-old child, even in South Florida? We now hear it fairly often and it fuels us. In fact, trying to make this happen is what got us started in 2006. Read Captain Rich’s Story to learn more about our start. 

What is the Florida Fishing Academy?

The Florida Fishing Academy or FFA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization for youth in South Florida. Our mission is to empower at-risk youth with marine experiential learning.

We combine lessons in nature and the environment with lessons in life. Through marine-related activities, we aim to show children the world around them, while instilling positive values. These values include a responsibility to preserve and protect the environment; a desire to be stewards of our local neighborhoods and to respect the law; a belief in the value of education and growth; a commitment to personal health and hygiene; and an urge to be a positive role model.

Our Mission

To use marine experiential learning to educate and empower at-risk youth in our community.

See Our Mission, Vision & Goals for 2025.

Who Do We Serve?

As a nonprofit for at-risk youth, we offer our programs to Title I schools and education centers to serve disadvantaged kids in grades 3 through 12. We also offer paid field trips and programs to schools, after-care programs and private groups in South Florida.

Our work is funded by grants, sponsorships and individual donations.

How We Work

Fishing and water activities are natural motivators in helping kids learn. We use these activities to teach marine science and social and emotional learning skills. Through the course, our kids can improve their skill development, well-being, prosocial behavior, self-awareness, and academic performance.

Overall, FFA kids have shown higher grades, improved standardized test scores, on-time grade promotion, reduced dropout rates and increased school attendance.

Our Impact

  • 28,000+ kids explored fishing & marine science
  • 150+ schools & education centers served
  • 95% went on a boat or in the ocean for the first time
  • 325 students found marine jobs after FFA
  • 226 became certified Red Cross lifeguards
  • 42 became certified Red Cross babysitters

Deeper Outcomes for FFA Youth

  • Building self-confidence
  • Overcoming fear of the ocean
  • Learning life skills & problem-solving
  • Enhancing social & emotional development
  • Gaining mentoring and marine job training
  • Building appreciation for Florida wildlife
  • Learning conservation

What Makes Us Different from Other Nonprofit Organizations for Youth?

FFA introduces kids to Florida’s greatest natural resource, its marine world, and does so both outdoors and in class.

Our Mobile Marine Lab brings the marine world to a school’s front door. It’s a custom-built exhibit in a trailer with touch tanks holding marine animals and a working model of the marine ecosystem. The lab allows kids to experience the marine environment at their location. No other organization we know of has such a program in Florida. 

How You Can Make a Difference

Help us engage tomorrow’s anglers, boaters, marine biologists and environmental stewards by teaching fishing as a sport and a livelihood.

By positively redirecting at-risk kids, we can reduce youth violence, crime, unemployment, teen pregnancy, and drug use.

Help Us Reach More Kids

What Others Are Saying

“A fun hobby for some youngsters in our area that may be a new doorway to a much better life. … A win-win situation all the way around.”

WPTV News Channel 5

“… one of the finest community outreach programs in the state of Florida — and one of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation’s favorite educational initiatives.”

Guy Harvey, renowned marine artist, scientist and conservationist

“They learned a lifetime of knowledge about salt and even freshwater fishing…. They even seem to get along better now!”

Jud Vanderlaag, parent of two FFA students

“As an educator and fishing enthusiast, I highly recommend this program to any school or community center interested in a unique, quality, child-centered after-school curriculum.”

Peter Slack, Principal, Poinciana Elementary Math, Science & Technology Magnet School