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RBFF’s “Get on Board” Continues to Flourish

The foresight of the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation’s leadership to use resources and develop programs targeted at increasing Hispanic family participation in boating and fishing through Vamos A Pescar has proven right on.

Since 2014, Hispanic participation has grown to an all-time high of nearly 5 million in 2020.

This was not always the case. A 2011 study from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service determined overall fishing participation had increased 11 percent between 2006-2011. What they discovered was that among the millions that identified as angling participants, only about 100,000 were Hispanic.

“That was a tremendous achievement as it was the first such increase since 1991,” explains RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. “But we also realized at a time when the Hispanic population was exploding in the U.S., Hispanic participation in fishing was flat, and in some cases was actually declining,” he added.

Peterson then turned to his RBFF team to dig deeper into that underlying data.

“We saw that was a very small number for what was the fstest growing demographic in our country,” recalls Peterson. “It made no sense to ignore such a growing audience. So, to ensure the future growth of the sport, we hired Lopez Negrette as our Hispanic agency and launched our Vamos A Pescar campaign in 2014 as a targeted addition to our already very successful Take Me Fishing [campaign],” he added.

Whether through advertising, social media campaigns, RBFF digital assets or earned media coverage, the Take Me Fishing and Vamos A Pescar campaigns racked up a record number of consumer engagements last year. A big part of that success was, and continues to be, the current “Get on Board” upbeat campaign that advocates: “It’s time to leave stress in our wake, it’s time to Get on Board!”

Overall, RBFF’s funding of Take Me Fishing, Vamos A Pescar and the “Get On Board” campaign constitute this year’s largest national boating and fishing promotion. All those feature a broad range of how-to videos, interactive state-by-state maps to find local boating and fishing spots down to immediate easy access to get a fishing license and boat registration.

RBFF’s annual funding of over $12 million comes from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, a user-pay user-benefit system created by boaters and anglers to pay for critical conservation programs and infrastructure projects. In total, the SFR&BTF supports about $650 million annually in boating access and fishery restoration including stocking programs and much more. Appropriately, the boating industry always lobbies hard for Congressional renewal of the SFR&BTF and advocates for an increased share to go to RBFF programs.

What does the 2020 Census tell you?
Just as RBFF recognized the changing demographics years ago and acted, today it’s just as important for marine dealers to study the changing demographics revealed by the 2020 Census and use that in their future marketing plans. Clearly, America is diversifying, but something’s really changed.

The statistics indicate it’s happening fastest in small Midwestern towns where the Census shows the non-Hispanic white population declined for the first time in the nation’s history. Meanwhile, growing numbers of Hispanics and Asians pushed up the share of residents who identify as a minority to roughly four out of every 10 people particularly notable in areas of the Midwest and northern Great Plains, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

Columbus, Ind. (pop. 50,000) is a good example, with one in seven residents born outside the U.S. Public school students collectively speak more than 50 languages and dialects at home. Roughly three dozen foreign companies operate in that area, led by the global headquarters for Cummins.

The data focuses attention on towns — like Columbus in the middle of Indiana’s sprawling farmlands — that are seeing growing ethnic and racial diversity, something that was primarily happening for decades in coastal cities and immigration centers. 

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