Illinois Urban and Community Fishing Program

The Illinois Urban and Community Fishing Program was initially established in Chicago in 1985 with the following goals: to teach people of all ages to fish, to provide local fishing opportunities, and to give participants a greater appreciation for natural resources. Since that time, this program has expanded and now operates throughout the entire state of Illinois with four full-time program coordinators and 20 summer interns to facilitate fishing experiences and conservation programs for thousands of Illinois children every year.

Activities of the Urban Fishing Program:

Contact Your Regional Urban Fishing Program Coordinator!

Chicago: Contact Jonathan Schlesinger at
For those interested in the Urban Fishing Programs in Chicago, please fill out the Summer Clinic Interest Form. School programs are not being offered at this time, however scheduling for these programs will resume this August.

Northern Illinois:
North of I-80, includes cities surrounding Chicago, Rockford, Moline and Rock Island
Contact Frank Sladek at

Central Illinois:
South of I-80 and north of I-70 (not including Alton/Grafton), includes cities of Quincy, Macomb, Peoria, Springfield, Champaign, Decatur, Danville and Bloomington
Contact Van Grissom at

Southern Illinois:
South of I-70, including Alton, Edwardsville, Mt. Vernon, Carbondale, East Cape Girardeau and Cairo
Contact Scott Isringhausen at

Click here for larger view of the Urban Fishing Coodinator Map


Statewide Program Offerings for Teachers:

Are you interested in providing a fishing and conservation experience for your students? Our Program Coordinators are not only available for classroom visits, but they also may be able to schedule a class fishing trip to a local waterbody. Our coordinators will work with classroom teachers to schedule and identify appropriate angling locations and classroom topics that align with ongoing curriculum. These programs can assist with meeting clasroom Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Illinois teachers interested in these opportunities are encouraged to reach out to their regional Urban Fishing Program Coordinator for more information. These programs are offered at no cost to Illinois schools.

Need a ride? Additional funding is now available to cover the cost of bus transportation to classroom fishing destinations. Teachers who are interested in applying for this funding should contact their regional Urban Fishing Program Coordinator. Funding for these grants is made possible through generous donations to Illinois Conservation Foundation from D.F. And M.T. Grohne Family Foundation of Wilmington, Daniel F. And Ada L. Rice Foundation of Skokie, and other generous supporters.

Statewide Program Offerings for others who want to teach young people how to fish:

Group Programs (for scout, religious, non-profit, 4-H, and after-school leaders): Are you interested in incorporating fishing and conservation into your group's activities? Let us help! We want to help you get more young people hooked on fishing. Please reach out to your regional Urban Fishing Program Coordinator to get started. Possible resources for leaders of youth groups include:

Fishing Derbies — Fishing Derbies are for those looking to go fishing in a large group setting. Our instructors are on hand to assist with any help needed for new anglers. These derbies generally include anywhere from 40 – 200 anglers.

Additional information about the Illinois Urban Fishing Program can be found in our Annual Reports:
Fiscal Year 2022 Annual Report
Fiscal Year 2021 Annual Report
Fiscal Year 2020 Annual Report
Fiscal Year 2019 Annual Report
Fiscal Year 2018 Annual Report
Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report
Fiscal Year 2016 Annual Report
Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Report
Fiscal Year 2014 Annual Report
Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Report
Fiscal Year 2012 Annual Report