President Bush and forty state governors have declared the month of June great outdoors month and this week is great outdoors week. A very fitting time to spend the last two days in Washington, DC, attending meetings of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and the American Recreation Coalition (ARC). I serve as the Chairman of both organizations.
I am joined on the RBFF board by Mike Hebert of Texas Marine, Jason Scruggs of Lowe Boats, Doug Beacham, representing the marina industry and John Hoagland of Mercury Marine to represent the boating industry. There is similar representation from the fishing industry and from state fish and wildlife agencies, SOBA and NASBLA.
RBFF is a federally funded outreach program to increase participation in fishing and boating. Its $12 million annual budget is spent promoting fishing and boating, promoting fishing license sales, and encouraging the youth of our nation to get outdoors fishing and boating. Its Take Me Fishing campaign is in its fourth year and has been re-launched with great new creative. Take a look at www.takemefishing.org.
Take Me Fishing has partnered closely with Discover Boating and you will see a much stronger boating presence as part of the Take Me Fishing Web site, in their print ads and online. And, these synergies are helping both campaigns squeeze more value out of every dollar spent.
The American Recreation Coalition last night honored Secretary of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne, with the Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award. I was fortunate to join the CEO of Coleman Company, Sam Solomon, to present this honor to Secretary Kempthorne. As Secretary of the Interior, Kempthorne has been a passionate supporter of getting Americans outdoors, and particularly getting kids outdoors, to enjoy our national parks, forests and waterways.
The dozens of recreation industries represented in ARC are all suffering today from high gasoline prices, flagging consumer confidence and a weakening economy. Yet, all understand that it is more important than ever to work together to get more Americans outdoors.
Our future depends on getting more Americans outdoors and boating will surely get its fair share when we succeed in doing so.