*The following write-up/picture is the latest edition of our monthly volunteer spotlight of volunteers in the Westfield Rec. Dept. We are blessed in the Rec. Dept. to have so many wonderful people who do and have volunteered their time both now and, in the past, to make our department and programs/events what they are today. We want to say THANK YOU! To nominate someone for volunteer spotlight, please send us a private message on Facebook or call/text Andrew at 753-6842.
Our volunteer spotlight for April is Jim Van Dyke. For close to 30 years, Jim has been synonymous with the Westfield Fish & Game Club and the Westfield Recreation Department’s “Kids Fishing Derby.” For years and years, Jim has shown up to the event with a huge smile on his face and a pair of helping hands. He is so talented at teaching the kids how to fish, about what kind of fish they caught, and anything else they may want to know. Jim was kind enough to sit down for a lengthy interview where we discussed a variety of topics, as well as his experiences with volunteering in different programs in Westfield.
“The kids fishing derby is a joint program with the Westfield Fish & Game Club and the Westfield Recreation Department. It is always the third Saturday in June which is the first day of bass season. It started out with about 20 kids and it has grown to over 50 kids in the last couple of years. What is neat about it, is that it is either Mom and Dad or Grandpa and Grandma with the kids. The first few years, the large pond was stocked well with trout. It got to be too hard to even get the trout. We then converted the big pond over to channel catfish and they are really doing well. They can get over 5 pounds and they have gotten bigger each year.” Listening to Jim talk about the derby, it was evident that he just loves the family atmosphere of kids and their parents/grandparents enjoying the outdoors together.
Jim would like to thank his wife Barb and all the members of the Fish & Game Club who have helped with the Derby. He also would like to thank the sponsors who have donated prizes, bait, etc. over the years: including Bill’s Hooks, Barcelona Market, and Westfield Bait & Tackle. We have been blessed to work with the Westfield Fish & Game Club and so many great volunteers throughout the history of the kids fishing derby. Jim was always the first to thank all these volunteers for their hard work and dedication and wants it to be known that the fishing derby would not have been possible all these years without them.
Both Jim and his wife Barb grew up in Westfield and spent their younger years playing at Welch Field as so many of us long-time Westfield residents have. As they started their own family, they sent their kids to play at Welch Field as they always thought it was a safe place for them to play. In addition to all his years of helping with the kids fishing derby, Jim has also taught hunter safety for kids for 55 years! He has practically been a lifelong member of the Westfield Fish & Game Club and has served as a past President and Officer and is a tremendous advocate for the Club. Jim has also spent time as a volunteer at the Barcelona Lighthouse. He also coached the “Blue Socks” for 6 years in the Westfield Little League program. Certainly, Jim and Barb are model residents and are the kind of people that represent what is best about Westfield.
For a man who has spent so much of his life giving back to others, his motivation has deep family roots: “I enjoy the kids. We always tried to keep our kids busy doing something. In sports or whatever they wanted to do, we always encouraged them to keep busy. I have a soft spot for the Westfield Fish & Game Club as my Dad was one of the founders of the Club.” It has been a pleasure to work with Jim on the kids Fishing Derby and just to sit back and observe his interactions with people and specifically kids. He has such a special way of communicating with kids and supporting them. He loves the outdoors, and you will find no greater advocate for kids getting outside and experiencing nature while having fun with their families. We appreciate everything that Jim has done, and we encourage everyone to approach life the way Jim has and to spend time with your families and to get outside and stay active.
Past Volunteer Spotlights:
July 2020: Christian Caballero
August 2020: Carol Reynolds
September 2020: Don Parker
October 2020: Luci Petrella
November 2020: John Emmons
December 2020: The Baum Family (Chris, Shannon, Mason, and Logan)
January 2021: Chris Anderson
February 2021: Roger Miller
March 2021: The Dellow Family (Wade, Wendy, Hunter, and Haleigh)