When Phil Taunton started the CPR (Catch, Photo and Release) program to promote getting kids involved in fishing, he wasn’t expecting its appeal to stretch much further than the Emporia, Kan. area where he lives.

But look at it now.

That program that Taunton launched in 2014 as part of his “What’s In Outdoors” radio show on KVOE has blossomed into a national event.

Fishing’s Future, a national organization devoted to helping children and families get involved in fishing, has picked up where Taunton left off and is holding a  photo contest featuring kids with their catch.

For Taunton, that progression seems fitting. He works tirelessly as a volunteer for Fishing’s Future, introducing many Kansas kids to the sport he loves.

“I was lucky. I had a father who took me fishing and hunting all the time,” Taunton said. “But some kids don’t have that.

“We need to show those kids and their families how much fun the outdoors can be. To me, there’s nothing like seeing a big smile on a boy or girl’s face after they’ve caught their first fish.”

That’s why Taunton started his CPR program. The rules were simple. Kids, send in a picture of you with the fish you caught and write a short essay describing the trip.

Taunton was amazed with the response the program got, and Fishing’s Future decided to bring the program to the national stage, not just Kansas.

This summer’s contest will begin June 3 and continue for 10 weeks. Here’s how it works:

  • Kids 1 to 16 years of age who are residents of the continental United States are eligible to enter weekly competition.
  • Children or parents must complete an entry form at FishingsFuture.org and provide a picture of the entrant with the fish, submit a 100-to 200-word essay and verify that they released the fish.
  • Fishing’s Future will hold random drawings to decide weekly winners, who will be awarded prize packages. The contest will run through Aug. 12.
  • Those weekly winners will then be entered in a drawing for the grand prizes. The top prize? A week-long vacation package for a family of four to South Padre Island in Texas.

“At Fishing’s Future, we’re working to connect kids with nature and the outdoors and to build better family relationships,” said Shane Wilson, founder of the national organization. “There’s no better way to do that than through fishing.”