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GONE FISHING: TES students take field trip to Pike County Lake

Haylie Williams is a sixth-grade student at Troy Elementary School.

From the first day of school this year, she has been looking forward to going fishing. On Thursday, her fantasy was realized.

“Last year Mr. (Forrest) Lee took all of the Troy Elementary School sixth-graders fishing at the Pike County Lake,” said Haylie’s mom, Leigh Ann Ellis. “Since then, Haylie has been looking forward to being in the sixth grade and going fishing with her class. She is so excited about the fishing trip and about getting to go out in a boat. This is a great experience for Haylie and, I’m sure for all of the other children, too.”

And if the excitement in the air was any indication, Ellis was right.

“All the kids are all having a good time,” said Josh Prestwood, who was along to fish with his sons, Braden and Bradley. “I like to fish and so do the boys, so we go a lot. They are having a good time out here today, fishing, and just being with their friends.”

Braden is a rather seasoned fisherman; he has bragging rights to a nine-pound bass that he caught in a private pond. But he said fishing with friends is as much fun as pulling in the big one.

“That’s what we want the students to realize – that fishing is fun and so is being in the great outdoors,” said Lee, who is the TES physical education teacher and archery coach. “Last year was the first for our Trojan Fishing/Boating Expo for our sixth-graders at Pike County Lake. It was a tremendous success, so much so that it is now an annual event. We have 115 students out here today (Thursday) and seven teachers and many volunteers.”

Lee said the Trojan Fishing/Boating Expo is sponsored by the TES Physical Education Department in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Freshwater Fisheries.

“The purpose of the Expo is to expose the students to the great outdoors and for them to realize what a great state Alabama is,” Lee said. “It’s surprising to learn how many of these sixth-graders have never been fishing before. For them, this is a first-time experience.”

Javier Ormeno has been fishing before. He fished rivers in Virginia before moving to Alabama, but Thursday was the first time that he caught a catfish. It didn’t take Javier long to realize why the fish he caught is called a catfish.

“It has whiskers,” he said with a smile that did not fade when it was tossed back into the lake. He only wanted to catch a fish, “not eat it.”

And fishing wasn’t the only learning experience for the sixth-graders. They rotated to stations where they learned about the cleaning and cooking of fish, boating and boating safety, electricity around water, wildlife in Alabama, ecology, and state fishing/boating laws and procedures.

For the students who participated in the Trojan Fishing/Boating Expo, it was a day of fun, learning and making memories. It was a day to experience the great outdoors and that’s something that many children don’t do often enough.

Brian Meadows, who shared the day with his son, Jacob, agreed that it’s good for kids to get out and enjoy Mother Nature.

“It’s good for kids to get away from computers and phones and have conversations with other kids,” Meadows said. “A day like today is a great experience for them. Whether they catch a fish or not, it’s a win anyway.”