As part of our commitment to make parks, public lands and water feel welcoming to all, we were excited to partner with the National Park Service and DC’s Department of Energy and the Environment on a special weekend of Junior Ranger Angler Fishing for the d/Deaf community. 

The event, hosted at the Tidal Basin of the National Mall on the first weekend in June, was designed for families and kids of all ages that were eager to learn how to fish. American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters assisted families as they learned how to bait and cast their fishing lines. Some pretty large catfish were caught! 

Brittany Grouge, a Biological Science Technician with the National Park Service and a CODA (Child of Deaf Adult) is the inspiration behind this program. Both her mother and stepfather are deaf. She was motivated to help organize this event because of her desire to provide “natural resource-based content and programming geared towards the d/Deaf community so that they can see the beauty and wonder in nature that we see on a regular basis.”

Brittany Grouge (left) pictured with Leslie Frattaroli, Natural Resources Programs Manager with the National Park Service (right).

National Park Trust surprised all of the families by gifting fishing poles and tackle boxes for each participant to take home so they could keep fishing and create more memories with their families. 

Brittany and her fellow NPS colleagues hope to host more events that can be replicated in other national parks around the country.

She expressed her gratitude to the Park Trust saying, “a huge thank you for making this such an absolute smashing success and for getting the word out about this event. It’s not the norm, so I am amazed that people received exposure to ASL and the Deaf community through the news coverage and that, for once, Deaf people saw themselves on the news.”

We could not agree more! We had a blast and look forward to participating in another fishing event this fall. The delight on the children’s faces when they caught a fish and/or received their very own fishing pole was all the thanks we needed!

Christopher Campo, DC Department of Energy and Environment (left) helping kids show off a big catch.
National Park Trust Education Coordinator, Melody Walkiewicz, setting up a fishing pole for a participant.

Leslie Frattaroli enjoys seeing one of the young fishermen show off his junior ranger hat.