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Photos: St. Cloud Somali youth celebrate Eid, get schooled in fishing

Bait along with rod and reels were made available to anyone wanting to learn how to fish.

Jun 8th · 2 min read

An Eid al-Fitr celebration in St. Cloud offered a chance for young Somali Americans to mark the holiday and connect with the outdoors — through fishing.

Families celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan with an outdoor picnic and bounce houses Tuesday near Lake George were also offered a chance to try their hand at baiting a hook and casting a line.

Mark Hauck with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources worked with the St. Cloud and Stearns County park departments to introduce people to fishing and other outdoor recreation who haven't had the chance to experience much of it before.

Hauck had heard from members of St. Cloud's Somali community that they were interested in fishing, but didn't have much knowledge of the sport.

So, he thought, since Lake George is a good place to fish and a spot where St. Cloud families would be celebrating Eid, why not combine the two?

"We have for many years have been recruiting and retaining and trying to get more people out into nature," Hauk said.

Mohayadin Mohamed likes the idea. He's president of the Islamic Center of St. Cloud.

He says fishing is something he would like to teach his children, but he doesn't know how.

From left, Ahmed Hassan and Mohayadin Mohamed listen to Mark Hauck from the DNR talk about outdoor recreational activities. <br>Paul Middlestaedt for MPR News
From left, Ahmed Hassan and Mohayadin Mohamed listen to Mark Hauck from the DNR talk about outdoor recreational activities.
Paul Middlestaedt for MPR News

"We want to create some kind of interest for our community, especially for the younger children that were born in Minnesota, who really want to do those kind of things, to learn those skills," he said. "As a parent, I may never have done fishing, but my kids will do better. Since we have 10,000 lakes in Minnesota, it's a good thing to try. It's one of the good sports in Minnesota. We didn't have that in Somalia."

A group of young boys pause their game of football to listen as Mark Hauck from the DNR tries to entice them to learn about fishing. Hauck had heard from members of St. Cloud's Somali community that they were interested in fishing, but didn't have much knowledge of the sport. <br>Paul Middlestaedt for MPR News
A group of young boys pause their game of football to listen as Mark Hauck from the DNR tries to entice them to learn about fishing. Hauck had heard from members of St. Cloud's Somali community that they were interested in fishing, but didn't have much knowledge of the sport.
Paul Middlestaedt for MPR News

Somalia actually has more than 1,800 miles of coastline, the longest of any African country. And fishing is an important industry.

But Mohamed says many younger Somali Americans didn't grow up there. Their families fled during the civil war and they grew up in other countries like the United States.

"So they don't have that kind of memory. So it's good to bring that back and learn and teach our kids."

Members of the Somali community learn to bait a hook and cast a line during an event to celebrate Eid. <br>Paul Middlestaedt for MPR News
Members of the Somali community learn to bait a hook and cast a line during an event to celebrate Eid.
Paul Middlestaedt for MPR News

And organizations like the DNR have been ramping up their efforts to connect with communities they'd overlooked before, Hauck said.

"So we recognize that as our population gets older, fewer and fewer people are recreating outdoors. And so we're really conscious of that, and we want to make sure we're providing as much opportunity as we can for people to get out. And either if they don't know how to, learn how to, or reinvigorate something they've done in the past."

last updated: 2019-06-08@08:06