Orvis are proud to support The Mayfly Project UK, a national organization that uses fly fishing as a catalyst to mentor and support children in foster care. We are honoured to work directly with The Mayfly Project UK's Director Susan Skrupa, who is a passionate angler and great friend of Orvis UK.
The Mission of The Mayfly Project is to support children in foster care through fly fishing and introduce them to their local water ecosystems, with a hope that connecting them to a rewarding hobby will provide an opportunity for foster children to have fun, build confidence, and develop a meaningful connection with the outdoors.
The Mayfly Project was founded in Arkansas in 2015, by Jess and Laura Westbrook, and the National Program was founded in 2016 when they partnered with Kaitlin Barnhart, of Idaho.
Jess Westbrook’s idea to use fly fishing as a tool to support children in foster care was derived from how he used fly fishing as a therapeutic tool to manage his own anxiety. In 2014, Jess and wife Laura’s son, Kase, was born. Soon after, Jess started experiencing intense anxiety attacks, which he had never had before. In a six-month period, he lost 30 lbs., was missing work frequently, and distancing himself from loved ones. Even though Jess had been fly fishing since he was six years old, something changed for him when a friend stepped in to help.
“A friend that I admired kept getting me out on the river to fish and I found that when I was on the river I forgot about everything but fishing,” explained Jess. All his worries and anxious thoughts seemed to disappear as soon as he stepped into the water. “When we are fly fishing we are so concentrated on casting, mending, presenting good drifts, etc., that we forget about everything else around us.”
Fly fishing and mentoring offer opportunities for children in foster care to build self-esteem and a develop a deeper connection with the outdoors. Some say fly fishing can be meditative and causes the angler to forget their concerns as they focus in on their floating fly. For a foster child, taking a break from being worried and simply spending time in nature catching fish is essential. The Mayfly Project UK work with some of the best lead mentors who understand the value in the gift of time and fly fishing for foster children specifically.
Orvis UK are passionate about The Mayfly Project UK and invite you to join in supporting it.