January 9 festival guides help you find yourself in nature


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Anglers for Conservation founder Rodney Smith hopes to Hook Kids on Fishing at the Jan. 9 Family Fitness Festival.The best way to get future generations to care about the great outdoors is to get them enjoying it while they are young, and the same goes for getting and keeping current and future generations healthy and fit.

Two award-winning outdoors men and conservationists will provide attractions at the Family Fitness Festival of Suntree from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9, after the 8 a.m. Color Me Healthy 5K Run/Walk on the Viera Medical Mile. The run starts and ends on the festival grounds at Jack Mahon Park, 7550 Spyglass Hill Road and heads down Spyglass to Murrell Road past beautifully landscaped and designed medical buildings along either side of the road in Viera, and meanders back through nature preserves, wildlife frequented waterfronts and the upscale custom-home neighborhoods of Devons Glen and Misty Creek.

“Our activity is well named, because once kids come learn about fishing, try it out, and get a free fishing pole that they can use in the future, it literally does Hook Kids on Fishing,” said Rodney Smith, founder of the nonprofit Anglers for Conservation as well as Coastal Angler magazine.

At 10 a.m. from the main stage, Smith will announce the winners of the video contest from the Dec. 5 Ocean-Reef-Beach Festival in Satellite Beach that drew 8,000 attendees. The winning 30-second films, many shot with affixed Go Pro cameras, will be used for conservation public service announcements.

Smith and other seasoned fisher-folk volunteers will teach youth and their parents and other adults the basics of fishing safety, and then they will teach the tricks to casting, using colorful Hula Hoops as targets rather than a typical waterfront.

“We call it fishing, not catching,” Smith said with a smile. “We do the attractions at waterfronts where there is a chance they will catch a fish, but the fact we don’t have a waterfront will in no way take away the fun with the hoops casting challenge.” 

Preserve Brevard co-founder Vince Lamb will provide a guided trail hike in the park’s built-in forest preserve at the the Jan. 9 event. 

“This will be a lot of fun because many of the plants represented are those you will find at all the great hiking trails found across this region, and we will talk about all the places you can 

have a great time hiking and photographing,” said Lamb, who is a docent at the nearby Helen and Allan Cruickshank Sanctuary 140-acre nature preserve in Rockledge. He will offer a sign-up for free guided tours at Cruickshank, adding that he can practically guarantee that with his endangered Florida scrub jay-whispering skills, he can get one to land on your head and take a peanut.

Also to be released at the Jan. 9 event is a full-color map of all the walking trails and paved pedway paths that traverse the Suntree golf course community.

“This is something that has been a well-kept secret, because, well, it always has been a secret. This is a private, upscale community,” said Todd Foley, general manager of the Suntree Master Homeowner’s Association, which is sponsoring the Color Me Healthy 5K & Family Festival.

“But we have decided that what we have is too valuable not to share,” Foley added. The maps will be available at the SMHA booth.

For more information on the January 9th 5K and festival, go to VieraMD.com or call 321-242-1235.