About Pond Hopper Nation
Founded in 2016, Pond Hopper Nation is an organization focused on bringing people of all ages together to spread the joy of fishing and promote spending quality time outdoors. Albert Talafuse, CEO and Founder of Pond Hopper Nation is passionate about improving lives and making fishing accessible to more individuals at a young age. With a goal to give back to the next generation, Pond Hopper Nation hosts several free family fishing events across the country to bring more children and families out fishing together.
“It all started with an idea to simply take kids fishing. As I got going, I realized there wasn’t one place or event that brings everyone together in fishing. There are typically individual, more competitive groups based on the type of fish, like bass or catfish. So, that was the idea, to bring all the pond hoppers together in one spot, regardless of age or skill level. It just clicked, and all came from the goal to create a space to allow more kids to experience this sport,” Talafuse recounts.
At his first event in Arizona in 2017, Talafuse had anticipated about 20 children to attend, but got an overwhelming response of 156 children. Talafuse began partnering with local and national fishing organizations who donate to the events, ensuring each child receives a t-shirt and fishing rod for free. “From then on, I had that event in Arizona annually, and then I had I began to try out other locations. It took off from there,” he shares. Today, Pond Hopper Nation strives to return annually to each of their previous event locations while adding new spots to the calendar. For 2022, Pond Hopper Nation already has 15 events on the calendar. The events have tripled in size with this year anticipating to be bigger than ever.
These fishing days are free to the community. Most events are held on a pond or lake in cities or nearby. All children receive a free t-shirt, fishing rod, and tackle upon arriving that they can take home. Volunteers are stationed at the events to help as needed with tasks including baiting the hook or releasing the fish after a catch. Typically, the events run from morning until early afternoon on a casual schedule – participants can come and go as they please. Aside from fishing, the day features other activities like a casting station, an educational station about fishing as well as where they can fish locally. For those who would like to register, Pond Hopper Nation has an event page on their newly redesigned website that will bring individuals to registration links.
“The goal is to get more kids out fishing and to provide the opportunity to those who may not be able to afford it or don’t know how. It’s a fun day for families to get out with their children and connect with them. Often, at our events we see foster children, or grandparents bringing their grandkids. One grandparent brought 9 grandchildren. They were able to give all their grandchildren equipment that they couldn’t afford. That is what makes it special,” Talafuse shares.
Growth for Fishing
At their event in Lake Havasu, Arizona, Pond Hopper Nation saw their number of attendees grow from 150 to 350 children in 2021. To encourage even more participation and draw more of an outdoors crowd, Pond Hopper Nation is adding a competitive sector to their events in 2022. The organization plans to add tagged fish to the ponds and allow the children competing to earn points for catching a tagged fish. The participants in this competitive group will be able to win prizes depending on their score. “We are going to treat them like little professionals. The ones that have never been fishing will see these other kids competing and I hope it will give them something to look up to. It will be a bit more engaging,” Talafuse says. “Competitive fishing typically begins in high school. That area is really growing, but beneath that, there isn’t much opportunity to start younger. That is where I am trying to grow the sport,” he continues. At the moment, Talafuse has 15 events set for 2022, but is looking to increase that number.
“I think there’s a need here. In the fishing industry, I think it’s focused on the fishing world and those who grew up fishing. That’s their target audience. Outside of that, there’s nobody really focused on kids or people who have never been fishing. Through the successful model I’ve created, we have been able to grow.” – Albert Talafuse
What does Pond Hopper Nation need from its hosts?
Pond Hopper Nation is interested in working with supportive communities to host new events. Funding is always beneficial to start planning. Of course, the organization needs a body of water to hold the event, which can be any sort of clean, fishable area that the kids can fish from the bank.
“I’ve created a good model where if I start with a tourism department, the event runs well. Using Playeasy, I’ll be able to enhance this model,” Talafuse says.
Typically, it takes 2 months of planning prior to an event. Pond Hopper Nation is already looking to use Playeasy to book into 2023. Reach out to Pond Hopper Nation if you think your destination could be a good fit.
What makes an event successful?
For Talafuse, a successful event comes down to leaving a positive impact on the community. “It truly brings a kid closer with their parents, grandparents, or guardians. It brings the community together as well as businesses and city government. Everyone comes together for a day. That’s my biggest benefit,” he shares.
To learn more about Pond Hopper Nation or to see if your destination could be a good fit, visit their profile here!
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