“One thing I’ve learned is that you’re inspired to do things differently if you see people who look like you doing them.” – Dishaun Berry
As an angler and writer, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with some dynamic individuals who are making a large impact on the outdoor industry. Many of them have a deep passion for the sport, mastery of their craft, and a genuine desire to share their knowledge with the next generation.
I had the opportunity to chat with Dishaun Berry and Philip Anderson, founders of the Get Hooked Foundation, an organization this is making a difference in the lives of many youth and families throughout Oregon and Washington State.
The Get Hooked Foundation was created to introduce children and families in at risk communities the joy of the outdoors. Their mission is to provide education and inspiration to youth and families by submerging them into the world of outdoor recreation and sport fishing.
Mentors for the programs are hand selected and work closely with children of all ages and from all walks of life to teach and to inspire. Children are taught to utilize, interact and care for the aquatic eco-systems that surround them. This unique program gives youth a solid understanding of the aquatic ecosystems, and helps them to develop the skills, knowledge and responsibilities associated with wildlife and the ecosystems in which they thrive.
By making these important life long connections it is the hope of the Get Hooked Foundation to defy cultural stereotypes and encourage ethnic diversity, personal peace, fun, and quality family time through fishing and nature.
What was the inspiration for the Get Hooked Foundation?
Berry: I grew up in Inglewood, California. It was a violent and gang-ravaged area. My family moved to Portland in to escape this violence only to find a growing gang influence in Oregon as well. , Going fishing and spending time outdoors kept us out of trouble and brought happiness and to our lives.
Anderson: Dishaun taught me how to fish. I was one of those kids like a lot of these kids we work with here. They may want to fish but their families don’t have the resources or the time. They don’t know how to get into the sport. Luckily I was blessed with a good friend like Dishaun who was able to show me how. Being able to create these opportunities that I didn’t have – for other kids – is a gift. In addition to being the Co-Founder of Get Hooked, I’m also an Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife Angler Educational Instructor.
Growing up in Northeast Portland, my first memories of fishing include selling worms to the Alberta neighborhood fisherman, riding my bike with friends to the ponds on nearby golf courses, and buying my first aluminum boat – without a trailer.
In order to go fishing, the boat was tied to the roof of the car, a Chevy Cavalier. His motto was, and still is today – nothing gets in the way of fishing!
Tell me a bit about your life prior to starting the Get Hooked Foundation.
Berry: I worked Corporate America for 13 years. After that, I decided to work with my brothers on the YouTube fishing series N.I.G.G.A.S (Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished) on Da River, also known N.O.D.R. The series ultimately turned into a popular TV show on Carbon TV. While still a successful series, I founded Get Hooked Foundation to focus on my true passion: fishing and working with the youth in the community I grew up in. In short, I am aiming to build a stronger sense of community through a common interest- fishing.
Anderson: I am a Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife Angler Educational Instructor. I have 16 years fishing of experience in the Pacific Northwest and has learned a great deal and has bonded thru fishing from best friend, Dishaun Berry.
Who taught you how to fish?
Berry: My grandfather got me into fishing. I was this black kid who was fortunate enough to see things that my community wasn’t seeing. I traveled in an RV. I lived outside and went fishing all the time. My grandfather fostered that in his family, and it has made a huge impact on my life and perspective.
Anderson: Dishaun taught me how to fish. I was one of those kids like a lot of these kids we work with here. They may want to fish but their families don’t have the resources or the time. They don’t know how to get into the sport. Luckily I was blessed with a good friend like Dishaun who was able to show me how. Being able to create these opportunities that I didn’t have – for other kids – is a gift.
Do you have a favorite Get Hooked moment?
Anderson: There’s not one specific moment. It’s every single moment from unloading the trailer, to putting the bait on, to the last person walking out. The things I tend to remember are the smiles and the interactions with the kids. You can’t put a dollar amount on it. You can’t bottle that feeling up. It’s just intoxicating. We always talk about how filled we are when we leave here. It’s a blessing.
It’s not even about catching a fish. That is a bonus. My goal is just to get parents and kids outdoors and away from the things that are plaguing us today – like social media, the Internet and television. We’re almost in a health crisis because we don’t get outside enough.
It was also about finding a way to fight against stereotype. We live in a time some people and even the media try to perpetuate the idea that certain sports and recreational activities are exclusivity for certain types of people. Whether it’s paddle boarding, swimming, boating, hiking or anything outdoors, we feel that everyone is entitled to bring that passion into their lives.:
Berry: And like Phil always says, “You can be a basketball player, but not everyone’s going to make it to the NBA. But everyone can be a great fisherman in his or her own right.”
What do you hope the kids and their families take away?
Anderson: You have to learn patience with the fish. You see the families out here waiting in line. Everybody is patient. I think that translates on the water as well. It’s not always going to come easy. That’s how life is, too.