TULSA, Okla. — Collegiate angling isn’t just about fishing tournaments and trying to eventually become a professional angler. For many college anglers, it is a stepping stone to a career within the fishing industry.
Luke Stoner of the University of Illinois shows us that experience holding leadership positions in a college fishing program can open doors to jobs within the fishing industry upon graduation.
Stoner was recently hired as the digital content manager for Dynamic Sponsorships, a sponsorship and consumer engagement firm representing brands such as Carhartt, LEER, Toyota Trucks and Zebco Brands. When he graduated college earlier this year, he was the tournament director and president of the University of Illinois Bass Fishing team.
Holding leadership positions within the club helped Stoner land an internship with Wired2Fish during the summer before his senior year of college, where he learned more about the fishing industry.
“By holding executive positions in the college club and being able to interact with industry-leading organizations with companies like B.A.S.S. and Carhartt opened up a lot of doors and opportunities for not just myself but many college anglers,” said Stoner.
Stoner's passion for the outdoors led him to pursue a degree in fish and wildlife conservation at the University of Illinois. Through college angling, however, he was exposed to other opportunities in the fishing industry than he would have been otherwise.
“It wasn’t a question of what kind of field I wanted to work in; I just didn’t know the specifics of it. I went through what it took to be a fisheries biologist, but knew I wanted to work specifically in the bass fishing industry.
“I didn’t know how the bass fishing industry worked. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work by many companies that are involved with the industry that might not be directly involved with the fishing,” said Stoner.
The experiences gained through college angling are becoming invaluable for those anglers wishing to make a career within the fishing industry after completing their degrees. Lance Peck, Dynamic Sponsorships' vice president, said Stoner's experiences through college fishing were an important factor in bringing him to the company.
“Not only was Luke the president and ran all of their events, he was also the tournament director and really understood the tournament industry, which made him well suited for what we were looking for," said Peck. "Jon James has been with us for three years and also participated in college fishing, and through being involved, it led him to a good understanding of how the fishing industry works and how to market to those anglers."
As college fishing grows each year and more college anglers get involved with their respective clubs, many other college anglers will move into jobs within the fishing industry as well. Stoner is a good example of where a collegiate angler’s hard work and experience outside the classroom can lead to incredible opportunities after graduation.