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Marsha Bailey, a volunteer certified angling instructor with Boys Scouts of America, is the 2021 recipient of the Brass Bluegill award from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fish Iowa! program.
Bailey has been involved with Fish Iowa! since 2017, offering fishing programs to all levels of scouts and can be found at Cub Scout Day Camps, Twilight Camps, or helping a Scout unit with a fishing activity. She serves as a merit badge counselor for the Fishing Merit Badge, Fly Fishing, and Fish and Wildlife Management. She also helps educate other volunteers and parents on basic fishing skills including knots, casting, stewardship, conservation and regulations, as well as equipment maintenance, so they have the confidence to take a Scout unit out and have a successful event.
She initiated, and now chairs, the fishing committee at the Mid Iowa Scout Council. The committee helps Scout units with fishing outings and maintains the equipment at the Council site and the Council camp. In 2020, they still managed to hold socially distanced and responsible fishing events, just on a much smaller scale. Bailey has also offered virtual Fishing Basics courses on a national level to other volunteers who teach youth and serves as a course director for the Certified Angling Instructor’s course offered through Scouts BSA and partners with the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) to offer their Passports to Fishing program to youth.
Bailey finds volunteering very rewarding. She enjoys helping youth catch their first fish and the smiles it brings to their faces. She notes that fishing builds confidence and independence for youth who are able to put a worm on the hook on their own, or parents who develop basic fishing skills because they want to go fishing with their child, but have never fished themselves.
She is an incredible advocate for fishing, sharing, “I went fishing with my dad as a youth but didn't do much after graduating from high school. Then when my son was a cub scout in first grade, he wanted to go fishing. I've been fishing with youth ever since.”
Bailey enjoys fishing because it is inexpensive and people of all abilities can fish. “Fishing does so many things for a youth like building confidence,” Bailey said. “It’s a skill they can have for life. Fishing brings families together, outside, enjoying each other and unplugged from video games or screens.”
Bailey will receive her award, along with a set of fishing poles to use with her programs, at the August 12 Natural Resources Commission Meeting. The Brass Bluegill award has been presented each year since 1996 to an outstanding local program that exemplifies the goals of the Fish Iowa! Angler Education program.