Mariah Shiele reacts to a fish she caught during last year’s Mayfly Project outing at Whites Fish Farm.
LOGAN – There is a local organization called the Mayfly Project that specializes in helping foster children have an outdoor experience learning to fly fishing in local waters.
Verlicia Perez, a Logan resident and senior mentor in the state, was the one who brought the organization to Utah a few years ago.
“The project started in 2015 in Arkansas and now we’re in 31 states and we’re growing like crazy,” she said. “The first year we had 15 children and this year 12 children are participating. “
There are a number of Cache Valley amateur fly fishing enthusiasts who offer to teach children how to rig their rods and use them in nearby rivers and streams.
Perez worked in social services for a while and saw the negative effects for children who were victims of domestic violence or those who lost their family unit in some other way.
“The foster children we work with are so used to falling through the cracks, having to share things with others, even fighting for the love and attention of others,” a- she declared. “These kids deserve dedicated time and attention, not shared time and attention. “
Perez said Mayfly gives kids a chance to be one-on-one with their mentor, fully engaged with another human being, and to have that mentor’s only attention and time.
“Every human being needs to feel important,” she said. “This is what we want our adopted children to feel when they are with us on the water.
Some of the children come to the program scared to death. This is an opportunity to bring a little peace to these children in difficulty.
Last year, Mariah Shiele was one of those children.
“Mariah was a 9-year-old Métis girl in the foster system who was adopted by white parents,” she said. “Things in her life started to deteriorate when her adoptive parents divorced, then her new mother passed away and Mariah was only six years old.”
The young girl faced real challenges.
“She’s had a lifetime in her 10 years,” Perez said. “She was a miserable little girl, and then she came to Project Mayfly. Everything changed.“
Her experience is similar to that of others who have taken the program. Mariah began to leave her problems by the river.
“Besides fly fishing, Mariah loved all bugs,” she said. “Her dad Brian said she made a big change in her social skills.”
Mariah has been invited to return this year as an Ambassador or Mini Mentor. It breaks the ice and will warm the kids up quickly.
“The highlight of the adventure is taking the kids to White’s Fish Farm, where they can catch a once-in-a-lifetime fish,” Perez said. “A child caught an eight-pound brown trout last year.”
She said being near a stream or river has been proven to have a calming effect or cause a meditative state, even in people with social unrest. She said her church is the Logan and Blacksmith Fork rivers.
On Saturday, April 25, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Mayfly Project will host a fundraiser at Herm’s Inn. There will be food, live music, a casting contest, and a silent auction / raffle to raise funds for The Mayfly Project. Herm’s Inn is located at 1435 Canyon Road in Logan.