Guide Outreach Program Seeks to Expand Mental Health Grants and Services to Fishing Guides Nationwide

Make a tax-deductible donation between now and December 31 and Orvis will match it.

Fishing guides are the backbone and face of the recreational fishing industry, a distinction earned thanks to thousands of hours spent training and educating anglers from all walks of life on each and every the seasons. They are the ambassadors of the sport and the guardians of our fishing resources. It is a rewarding but demanding job.

How long is a fishing guide’s day? Surely, it is much more than the hours spent in the water with your clients. Ongoing communication and logistics efforts with clients, equipment disputes, gassing up, meal prep, drive time, and end-of-day equipment maintenance all add up to make a guiding day anything but a 9-5. ‘er, and many season guides push themselves for dozens, sometimes hundreds, of days at a time. Days off are valuable, unpaid, and often filled with provisioning, boat and equipment maintenance, paying bills, repairing personal relationships, and everything else a margin-driving small business owner must deal with. very narrow. While most guides enjoy what they do for a living, the demands are stressful and often overwhelming.

As a group, professional fishing guides are prone to a variety of social and economic stressors and mental health issues. Established in 2020 by Mollie Simpkins and KynsLee Scott, the Guide Relief Program (GRP) acknowledges this fact. Their simple mission is to provide meaningful support to these angling ambassadors and protectors of resources on and off the water.

“Our goal is simple, but our task is challenging,” says Simpkins. “GRP exists to take care of the people who take care of the resources that every angler enjoys. We do this in a variety of ways. We were born out of COVID-19, helping fishing guides navigate and access the complicated and rapidly changing forms of support available to them. Since then, we’ve expanded our role to offer small but significant grants to fishing guides dealing with all kinds of personal and professional crises. These difficulties may be related to things like last summer’s historic flood in Montana or the devastation caused by storms like Hurricane Ian, but we don’t limit our assistance to guides affected solely by natural disasters. Life comes to fishing guides fast and hard, so facilitating access to mental health services at no cost is also at the core of our mission.

Through a partnership with BetterHelp, the GRP offers approved guides two months of access to comprehensive mental health services at no cost. The 100% confidential program is available to anyone who can prove they are a guide. Once approved, guides are matched with a licensed, board-certified therapist based on specific needs and preferences.

Because the demand for the program is so high, GRP is seeking tax-deductible donations that will help expand the number of guides that can be served.


Donate now and Orvis will match your donation

It costs $260 to provide mental health benefits for each driver who needs them. Help us help more people. Now, through the end of the year, whatever you can afford to donate will go even further—twice as much, in fact, thanks to Orvis’s generosity and stewardship. The company will match all donations received by GRP through December 31, 2022, dollar for dollar, up to a maximum contribution of $10,000. These matching funds increase the impact of your giving, while making what you can give more meaningful and important than ever.

Learn more about the Guide Relief Program, hear the stories of those we’ve helped, and see how you fit in at Join the conversation and follow our progress together on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

About the Guide Assistance Program
The Guide Assistance Program was created during the global COVID-19 crisis to support Montana fly and conventional fishing guides by providing critical information and resources on unemployment, grants and loans, and financial assistance. In doing so, we realized that there was no social safety net for guides. With the future in mind, the Guide Assistance Program will continue to work to ensure a better future for fishing guides across the country, supporting them on and off the water. The Guide Relief Program is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.