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Passing it on through the Brent McKown Learn-to-Fish Program

Brent McKown enjoyed fishing.

He also enjoyed introducing people to fishing.

And, though he passed away in 2001, he is still introducing people to fishing.

In his memory, McKown’s sons, Daryl and Derek, set up and continue to oversee the Brent McKown Learn-to-Fish Program.

“My dad was a salesman for Osram Sylvania most of his life,” Derek McKown said. “But, if you asked him what he was, he would say a fisherman. His dad was the same way.”

“He taught us how to fish on Farnsworth Creek,” McKown said.

They’re passing that on.

For the second time, the McKown Learn-to-Fish Program will purchase licenses and trout stamps for any interested county residents ages 16 through 18. Those younger do not have to be licensed.

“Legally, if you’re 16-years-old, that’s when you start buying your trout stamp and license,” McKown said. The family hopes to “foster fishing in Pennsylvania among people who now have to make a money outlay.”

“We had 22 kids show up in March of 2019 at Walmart and we bought them their licenses and trout stamps,” McKown said.

The money comes from my father’s friends and family, our friends and families, area businesses and organizations,” McKown said.

There is more than enough to double last year’s results.

“We raise enough money,” he said. “We can easily do 50 to 60 this year. We’re trying to do that.”

Those who were part of the program last year and were 16 or 17 are welcome to come back. “We encourage that,” McKown said. “Ideally, you could get it three years in a row.”

Through 2018, the program looked different.

“For 16 years after his death, we took 50 kids fishing at the Farnsworth Fish Hatchery and Trout Club,” he said. “They would fish — catch and release — the trout that they put in there.”

The program provided the gear — rod, reel, and tackle for every participant.

“They would fish until they got tired and take the equipment home with them,” McKown said.

Some of those youngsters who went to the club were among the 22 the program helped purchase licenses for last year.

The brothers will not assemble a group of people at a licensing agent location this year.

“This year, because of COVID-19, we’re asking everyone to either call (814) 489-3110 or email yankeebush6101@gmail.com,” McKown said. “We need their name, mailing address, phone number, and age.”

Those eligible to apply must be 16, 17, or 18 during this fishing season. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s season runs through the end of the calendar year. Those who contact the program will receive paid vouchers.

“We will turn around and send them a voucher which they can redeem for a license and trout stamp at any Pennsylvania licensing agent,” McKown said. “When they redeem that voucher, they will have to prove that they are 16, 17, or 18, with a social security card, drivers permit, drivers license, or birth certificate.”

The brothers switched from taking kids fishing to purchasing licenses for a number of reasons. Among them, “my brother and I are getting older and it was getting harder to pull it off.”

But, the change didn’t impact the contributions to the fund.

“There was no slow-down in the donations when we changed,” McKown said. “That was neat.”

Like the portions of the community that back the program, Brent McKown wanted people to fish.

“He was a character,” McKown said. “He knew everybody and he took everybody fishing.”

“He was in the Little Brother program and Companions for Kids,” he said. “He took them fishing.”

His family is keeping that tradition alive.

“I think he’d like it,” McKown said.

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