Florida High School Team Makes the Most of Lew’s Grant Opportunities

The Osceola Anglers High School fishing team in Central Florida is just about the perfect picture of what a high school fishing team looks like. They have grown from their infancy to 28 fulltime members who are very active not only on the lake but also in their community. The team participates in a variety of intra-club events, a High School trail in the Central Florida area and events sponsored by the SAF/FLW and others. The club also has regularly scheduled team meetings that are run by the students to help plan their activities throughout the season.

“Typically, we run fund raisers throughout the year to help fund our year end awards which include Scholarships as well as fishing equipment,” Coach Lamar Chisolm, stated. “This year, with the addition of the Lew’s Grant Program, we can now ensure that all of our team members will receive new tackle and equipment to work with,” Chisolm added. “The team really likes the Lew’s products so receiving the Mach Combo’s is a big highlight for those who earn them.”

The Lew’s Product grants are available to all High School teams throughout the country who apply. Your team can start the process by going to www.futurefisherman.org or www.lews.com. The grant is designed to grow the sport of fishing and rewards teams that are active in their communities, as well as, supports the Keep America Fishing campaign across the country.


Sharon Rushton, Original Executive Director of the Future Fisherman Foundation Loses Battle with Cancer

Sharon Rushton

Sharon Rushton

July 06, 1950 – May 16, 2017

Sharon Rushton lost her battle with cancer on May 16, 2017.  She was born on born July 6, 1950 in Hutchinson, Kansas, the daughter of Velma and Dave Betz.

Sharon is survived by her husband James Rushton; her step-son Chris Rushton and his wife Brandi from Fayetteville, AR,  and grandson Taggart Rushton; mother Velma Betz of Denver, Colorado; sisters Janet Betz of Denver and Diane west of Windsor, Colorado; nieces Kaeli West and Marissa West-Banninga and her husband Cameron.  She is preceded in death by her father Dave Betz.

Sharon and her husband retired to Kimberling City in 2005, and she attended the First Christian Church. She loved family, friends, fishing, golfing, skiing and traveling, and, before she retired, she truly loved working.

Sharon attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado where she studied radio, television and journalism and was a trailblazer. She was the first female disc jockey at the college radio station. She received a scholarship and internship at the ABC affiliate TV station in Denver, Colorado where she became their first female news reporter.

Sharon finished her Bachelor of Arts and was recruited by the Natural Resources College at CSU to become a Guinea pig. They wanted to take a communications student through a Masters program in wildlife to come out as an individual who could communicate wildlife issues. The experiment worked.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency hired Sharon as a regional information and education coordinator and later she became the first female to hold a Chief’s position.  Sharon reported the wildlife news for the three Nashville TV stations; Sharon was also a regular guest on a weekly outdoor television program and co-hosted the show for a year.  Sharon was editor of the Tennessee Wildlife magazine for three years and a contributor for eleven years.  Sharon was also commissioned as a wildlife officer and worked enforcement on holidays and opening days.

The fishing tackle manufacturer Berkley, recruited Sharon to move to Spirit, Lake Iowa where she was hired as the founding executive director for the Future Fisherman Foundation. Through the Future Fisherman Foundation, she developed the award-winning Hooked On Fishing – Not On Drugs® program; helped to establish sport fishing and aquatic resource education programs throughout the U.S.; developed student manuals for sport fishing and aquatic resources; supervised the development of the National 4-H Sport Fishing Program; and co-wrote the popular Fishing Fun for Kids booklet.

Her work with the Foundation was so successful that the association for the fishing industry moved the Foundation to the association so all manufactures could support it. Sharon’s work through the Foundation touched youth and families throughout the U.S. and three other countries and also earned her Induction and Enshrinement into the national Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.

The Hooked On Fishing – Not On Drugs program that Sharon developed and coordinated was recognized by three U.S. Presidents and several state attorney generals who witnessed the program’s success in reducing drug use in their states.  Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee became a spokesperson for the program and had it implement in Arkansas schools. Schools in more than 20 states utilized the program.  Norway sponsored Sharon to present a day long workshop in Oslo, where they were piloting the program. The Prime Minister of Norway was there to welcome Sharon and to give the opening talk of the workshop. Sharon was also asked to speak to their Environmental Committee of the Parliament.

After the Foundation, Rushton established her own company where she: was a co- developer of the Best Practices Workbook for Boating, Fishing and Aquatic Resource Stewardship Education for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation; she helped to develop the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! campaign for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; coordinated the development of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ Conservation Education Strategy; and helped develop the Step Outside program for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. She coordinated National Fishing Week for several years where she worked with the celebrity chairmen of National Fishing Week … people like pilot Chuck Yeager, race car driver Davy Allison, and others

Sharon is the author, co-author or editor of 10 books, and producer of eight videos. She also was a freelance writer and photographer and her work appeared in brochures, newsletters and magazines in both the US and Canada, including Outdoor Life.  As a member of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association she served as their president as well as other board positions.

She has been honored with numerous awards for her work in the field of fish and wildlife and natural resources.

Sharon’s passion was fishing. She grew up trout fishing but fell in love with bass fishing when she moved south.  She fished the Women’s Bassmaster Tour (WBT) and won the co-angler division of the WBT Preview Event and came in fourth in the WBT’s first championship.

Recently, she stepped out of her comfort zone and wrote the book No Paved Road To Freedom – Based on a True Story, which has been honored with three awards and is receiving 5-Star reviews on Amazon. In 2016 the book became available in Romanian and a movie producer has optioned the movie rights. Written as a gripping novel, the book will remind you that freedom is precious and easily lost … a message Sharon hoped would inspire individuals to protect our freedom in the US.

In lieu of flowers, contributions to one of the following would be appreciated

  • First Christian Church, 5 Hilltop Drive, Kimberling City, MO 65686
  • Tim Tucker Memorial Outdoor Communications College Scholarship, OJEFA, O. Box 115, Badin, NC 28009

Memorial Service will be Saturday, June 3, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. at First Christian Church Kimberling City, MO with Pastor Kent Williams officiating.

Arrangements are under the direction of Stumpff Funeral Home Kimberling City, MO.

Lew’s Launches High School Fishing Mach Product Grant Initiative

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (March 1, 2017) – Lew’s announces the introduction of the Lew’s Mach Product Grant (Lew’s MPG) high school program that is designed to provide product support to organized high school fishing efforts throughout the United States.

Broken Arrow OK Fishing TeamBroken Arrow, Okla., high school fishing team members examine a Lew’s Mach Product Grant kit. The new Lew’s program, administered by the Future Fisherman Foundation, awards Mach rod and reel combos to high school clubs through an online application process based on activity criteria, including a conservation element.

The program has been developed in partnership with the Future Fisherman Foundation (F3), a well-known non-profit organization dedicated to introducing youth to fishing and the outdoors, who will administer the Lew’s initiative.

Lew’s Mach rods, reels and pre-mounted combos are tournament quality gear designed especially with styling, performance and affordability in mind for today’s student anglers. Lew’s MPG is funded in part by a portion of the profits resulting from the sale of Mach products.

“Lew’s has a history of giving back to the fishing community and our commitment to support youth fishing was one of our first and highest priorities upon re-launching the Lew’s brand in 2009,” said Gary Remensnyder, Lew’s president. “While we’ve had school programs in place ever since, this grant initiative is brand new and something totally different.

“Our MPG program provides Mach rods and reels at no charge in response to project-based applications as a way to nurture high school fishing club activities to the benefit of their members, schools and communities. In doing so, we also want to heighten the students’ appreciation for our natural resources and grow their personal skills, confidence and character through participation in the fun of fishing.”

TBFLew’s Mach product grants can be used for a variety of purposes, including fundraisers to help get teams to tournaments, or as loaners for members, or as prizes, etc.

Any U.S. high school Lew’s Mach baitcast and spinning combos and related items are included in the Lew’s high school product grants. fishing club or team is eligible to apply, and product awards can be used for a variety of purposes, including fundraisers, angler loaner programs and event prizes.

Lew’s MPG’s must be applied for online between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, but the application window can be closed earlier than September if the product allocation for the year is met before then. Regardless of application date, club/team activities for which the products are requested can be held anytime in the year.

For applications that are approved, the recipient clubs will receive either four, eight or 12 Mach rod and reel combos, split equally between baitcast and spinning outfits, with those quantities being determined in accordance with the program’s three award levels.

Criteria impacting the number of combos awarded include: club/team size, anticipated number of participants and the magnitude of the conservation element. At a minimum, all recipients must take the “Keep America Fishing” pledge, becoming part of America’s united voice of recreational anglers dedicated to watching over the country’s fisheries resources.

Future Fisherman Foundation, with its own programs like Boys and Girls Clubs partnerships, and the long-running “Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs” educational program, is experienced in youth efforts. F3 officials will receive and review the Lew’s MPG applications, and make the award determinations.

“The Lew’s high school grant program is a perfect fit to Future Fisherman’s mission of ensuring the future of fishing,” said Mark Gintert, F3 executive director. “We deal with high school clubs and teams on a daily basis regarding many of our own programs as well as those of others, so this responsibility falls right into our wheelhouse. We’re proud to team with Lew’s in this program.”

F3 will receive compensation from Lew’s in support of the provided services.

The specific models of the Mach combos may vary in the product award packages according to availability. Combo values range from $99.99 to $179.99, depending on models, meaning the largest product grants will be worth more than $1,000 each.

“For 2017 we’re committed to awarding more than 1,000 combos, should we have the qualifying applications to reach that level,” said Lew’s CEO Lynn Reeves. “We expect an even bigger number in 2018, and then further growing the totals each year thereafter as we continue to expand our Mach product offerings and experience the positive results at retail.

“We have a high level of confidence for this because it’s patterned after the Lew’s American Hero program that benefits veterans fishing groups. Our American Hero product donations have grown every year since we started it in 2013, and we expect the same for the high school effort. Lew’s is proud to support veterans and youth fishing with these two programs.”

Mach Program productsLew’s Mach baitcast and spinning combos and related items are included in the Lew’s high school product grants.

All details relating to the Lew’s MPG program, including the online application form, can be found at Futurefisherman.org.

F3 Annual Auction Once Again Supports the Future of Fishing

The Future Fisherman Foundation annual on-line eBay auction has once again concluded and we would like to take a moment to thank the following companies and individuals for providing merchandise and fishing trips for the event.

Companies that participated include; TTI Blakemore, Pure Fishing, Zebco, Koppers/Live Target, Johnson Outdoors, Lew’s, The Dollahon Agency, Rappala, FLW, and The Bass Federation, as well as, many others that helped behind the scenes.

Individual guides and professional anglers include; Alex Kolody, Wade Shahid, Charlie Evans, Korey Sprengel, Chip Lear, Mike Lott, Jonathan Phillips, Fred Roumbanis, Shaw Grigsby, Andrew Upshaw, Chris Lindenberg, John McCardle, Peter Yanni, Tom Todd, Richard Lisek, Miles Burghoff, Dave Mauldin, Duane Landmeier, Randy Jacobson. John Murray, Mike Taylor, and Drew Sadler.

We’d also like to thank all of the great fishing enthusiasts who went to bid on this wide selection of products and fishing trips. It’s through the efforts of these companies and individuals that help us “Ensure the Future of Fishing.”