Expanding the qualifications to include both graduating high school seniors and those already enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs, Shimano North American Fishing, Inc. is partnering with B.A.S.S. to award up to $30,000 in scholarships as part of its ‘Shimano Varsity’ program. The expansion of the program was officially announced to state fisheries professionals and B.A.S.S. Nation conservation directors by Shimano Youth Fishing Director Frank Hyla at the biennial B.A.S.S. Conservation Summit held in conjunction with the recent GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.
“Being one of the cornerstones of our Varsity program, the scholarships provide needed financial assistance to future leaders in conservation, fisheries and wildlife sciences and management,” said Hyla, “where we hope those talents help with work done by state, regional, provincial and national natural resource agencies.”
Over the past 20 years, there has been a critical decline in professional natural resource managers who fish and hunt. “The future of the fishing industry is based on sustainable use and proper management of our public lands and waters,” notes Phil Morlock, Vice President for Government Affairs/Advocacy at Shimano. “We hope our scholarship program helps recruits these students – who already enjoy fishing and understand the importance of conservation efforts through their involvement with B.A.S.S. to pursue a college degree in natural resource professions.”
Along with the scholarships, Shimano’s Varsity Program helps younger anglers learn about fishing tackle and techniques, provides industry networking opportunities and stresses the role anglers have in fishing conservation and advocacy. “Since our program began in early 2017, those anglers participating in our program have been active with the Keep America Fishing Pitch It program keeping used plastic baits out of our lakes and rivers,” said Hyla, “and have picked up thousands of pounds of trash at boat ramps and other areas through our ‘Leave It Better’ projects.”
For their studies beginning in fall 2018, Shimano will award up to fifteen (15) $2,000 scholarships to U.S. and Canadian high school seniors, college undergraduate and graduate students who are members of B.A.S.S., and majoring in biology, fisheries, wildlife or a natural resource related field. A specially selected panel, including Morlock, B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland, and Chris Horton with the Congressional Sportsman’s Foundation, will determine the scholarship winners. Application forms – with a May 31 deadline – are available on the Shimano website at Shimano Varsity Program Scholarship.
Successful applicants will be notified by July 1. The award is made directly to the student winner and can be used as needed for tuition, textbooks or living expenses.
For more information about on the ‘Shimano Varsity’ program, visit: http://varsity.shimano.com.