EKU’s GONE FISHIN’ Grant Assesses Outdoor Programs for Youth

Published on February 03, 2023

By Makenzie Winkler

In a collaborative effort, several Eastern Kentucky University centers, departments and faculty were awarded funding for their GONE FISHIN’ grant proposal submitted through EKU’s Cross College Interdisciplinary Collaboration (CCIC). The purpose of the GONE FISHIN’ project is to assess the feasibility of outdoor programming and wilderness training for youth and young people in Eastern Kentucky, demonstrating EKU’s commitment to the economic vitality and creative capacity of the region it serves. 

The CCIC-funded grant project began in January and is slated to be completed by May of this year. Throughout the spring semester, the project will conduct a feasibility study on wildlands certification, a pilot workshop in place-based oral history for high school students and a pilot wilderness first aid class for high school students and youth. In May, the team will evaluate the pilot workshops and feasibility study and deliver their final assessment of the potential opportunities and challenges in developing outdoor programming for youth in Eastern Kentucky.

“It is the people of Eastern Kentucky that make it special,” said Angel Michael Cobb, a student involved in the project. “Our grant is dedicated to serving our youth by evaluating what opportunities are available, determining how to utilize those resources and finding ways to expand. As our world becomes more digital and our environment is stretched thin, it is more important now than ever that we join together to provide outdoor opportunities for our youth.”

The potential impacts of the project include building the capacity for communities and the region to work together on developing strategies to address challenges and create opportunities for youth, position EKU to receive additional funding for outdoor youth programs, allow high school students to see potential in their home communities and park systems and enable EKU students to gain valuable career experience. 

“I see the passion from our research team and community members and that makes me hopeful that this grant will be a stepping stone to a much bigger project—one that will shape our state by increasing healthy outlets and economic impact opportunities,” said Dr. Brian Clark, associate professor in EKU’s Departments of Recreation and Parks Administration and Exercise and Sport Science.  

The project was awarded $15,324 to administer a feasibility study for outdoor programming for youth and to conduct two pilot workshops. With in-kind contributions of $9,116, the total project value is $24,440.

“This grant will give us invaluable information directly from community members and outdoor recreation leaders in the areas of Eastern Kentucky that will help to increase the quality of life and even aid in the economic impact by utilizing our beautiful natural areas,” Clark said.  

The GONE FISHIN’ team includes EKU’s Center for Outdoor Education and Research, Center for Wilderness and Outdoor Public Safety, William H. Berge Oral History Center, Department of Recreation and Parks Administration, faculty and staff members Dr. Stephanie McSpirit, Dr. Brian Clark, Neil Kasiak and David Fifer, as well as student participants.