CITGO Bassmaster Tour angler Pete Gluszek has been going back to school the last four years.
Unlike other anglers who might go back to school to continue their education, Gluszek has returned to teach kids about bass fishing. For the past four years, he has made annual visits to the Woodstown Elementary School in New Jersey, where he has talked to fourth graders about his occupation.
The New Jersey angler usually visits a class in the spring toward the end of the school year, when teachers are looking for speakers to enlighten the students about their occupations. Gluszek makes his visit a show-and-tell session by towing his boat to the school and bringing other tools of his trade to the classroom. "I go over the boat and show them what the sonar does," says Gluszek. "I tell them it's my computer, and they can all relate to that. I tell them what the trolling motor is for, and why the boat is set up the way it is. I show them all the tackleboxes with my lures, and they go crazy. It's like going into their toy closet."
Prior to his school visit, Gluszek goes fishing and keeps some fish in the livewell. Pulling a bass out of the livewell is a highlight of the boat tour — "The kids go nuts," says Gluszek. "They all want to touch or hold the fish."
The pro angler spends about 15 minutes in the classroom before taking the kids outside to see his boat for the rest of his hour-long period. During his classroom time, Gluszek shows the kids a poster of freshwater fish and tells them about the species in their area. He also talks about environmental issues, such as pollution and garbage, stresses the practice of catch-and-release, and holds a question-and-answer session. "They always want to talk to you," he says. "They don't usually have very good questions, but they love asking them."
Gluszek also introduces the youngsters to his sponsors by bringing lure sample packs to class. "I bring bags full of plastic worms, and the kids love them," he exclaims. "They take them out of the packs and trade them."
The pro angler's presentations impress both the pupils and their teacher.
"The kids get attached to him right away," says Woodstown teacher Jim Tessmer. "When he leaves, the kids who have fishing rods all want to go fishing, and the others want to get fishing rods. The kids are really fascinated because of his enthusiasm. He's kind of charismatic with the kids, and I've told him many times if he hadn't decided to become a pro fisherman that he probably would have made a good teacher. I enjoy having him come because he is an exciting kind of character, and the kids can feel his excitement about what he does for a living."
His show-and-tell sessions are starting to draw interest from other youth organizations. "I do things like that with the Cub Scouts, too," says Gluszek, who gets about six requests a year from groups. "The more I do, the more invitations I get."