Congratulations, Explorers!

In September 2010, we teamed up with Discovery Education in the hopes of inspiring a love of the great outdoors – including a love of boating and fishing – in young people by co-creating a fun, interactive yet educational website called To build excitement, we launched an essay contest supported by The Sports Authority that asked kids to describe their favorite boating or fishing memory.

The contest was extremely exciting from our end. We loved reading the essays and seeing the enthusiasm as expressed in each child’s words. Although the most exciting part may have been  sharing the news of who won with the winners!

Fifth grader James C.’s essay “Our Special Pond” was chosen from hundreds of entries as the grand prize winner. At the end of his essay, the Barnsdall, Oklahoma student imparted a key lesson learned: “I want to take care of my ponds, lakes, and rivers, so one day when I grow up I can enjoy fishing with my kids.” As the grand prize winner, he and his family have been awarded a trip to Yellowstone National Park including airfare, lodging, $650 in spending money for fun on-the-water activities and a $250 Sports Authority gift card.

Fifth graders Colton W. and Tommy L., third grader Lillian K., second grader Jackson W. and first grader Aidan H. were each awarded first place prizes of $100 Sports Authority gift cards for their thoughtful entries as well.

Though the contest is complete, kids and parents can still take advantage of the tools, games, and resources designed to enrich their knowledge of the water, the outdoors, fishing, and more at There, you can search more than 12,000 places to boat and fish, find local services, activities and events, or learn more about the aquatic plants and animals in your area.  If the weather isn’t cooperating for outdoor activities, parents and children can also take a virtual underwater field trip, keep an online boating journal and play a variety of exciting games (like “Thrill of the Catch””!).

Congratulations to all of the winners!

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Stephanie Vatalaro

Stephanie Vatalaro

Stephanie Vatalaro is vice president of communications for the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation and its Take Me Fishing and Vamos A Pescar campaigns where she works to recruit newcomers to recreational fishing and boating and increase awareness of aquatic conservation. Stephanie grew up in the Florida Keys as the daughter of a flats fishing guide. Outside of work, you can find her fishing and boating with her family on the Potomac River in the Northern Neck of Virginia.