Scholarships awarded to benefit students who love fishing

PARIS, Tenn. — Four high school seniors planning to pursue college studies in natural resource fields were awarded $3,000 Shimano Varsity Program scholarships today.

Two of the recipients were presented their scholarships during weigh-in festivities of the Costa Bassmaster High School Championship presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods on Kentucky Lake, Tennessee.

Logan Parks of Auburn, Ala., received one of the scholarships to help him with studies in natural resources at Auburn University in the fall. He and his Auburn High School teammate, Lucas Lindsay, qualified for the national championship and are in striking distance of the lead with 16 pounds, 13 ounces of bass after one day of fishing.

Another recipient, Patrick Durand of Cherry Hill, N.J., traveled to Tennessee with his father, Craig Durand, to receive the scholarship award.

Other recipients are Nicolas Boyett and Chase Ditchkoff, both of Georgia.

In making the announcements, Shimano Youth Fishing Director Frank Hyla said one of the keystone goals of the Shimano Varsity Program is assisting young anglers who will someday help assure there are excellent fishing resources for future generations.

“Until recently, the people who managed fisheries and wrote laws to manage the fisheries were hunters and fishermen,” Hyla noted. “Now there are fewer and fewer people who hunt and fish trying to obtain those degrees.”

B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland, who helped in administering the scholarship program, agreed.

“We found that a lot of states are having trouble hiring biologists who know anything about fishing,” said Gilliland, a former fisheries official in Oklahoma. “This program is aimed at getting students involved in natural resources studies so that they can understand their ‘customers’ better.”

Parks, a co-founder of the Auburn High School fishing team, designed and implemented a line recycling project at seven sites on Lake Martin, Alabama. He also led his fishing teammates in an Alabama Power Co. project to plant native vegetation in his favorite lake.

Durand is the founder of the Cherry Hill Outdoorsman Club at his high school. He is majoring in environmental science at SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry and said he wants to do something in his career to “give back” to fishing and the outdoors.

From Climax, Ga., Boyette graduated from Bainbridge High School and plans to major in wildlife management at Bainbridge State College. One day he hopes to own or manage a fishing or hunting operation. And Ditchkoff of Lithia Springs, Ga., a graduate of Alexander High School, plans to study fisheries at West Georgia University with the goal of working for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

With the noted decline in professional natural resource managers who fish, “the goal in working with B.A.S.S. to recruit students who already enjoy fishing and are interested in natural resource professions will pay off with these four outstanding young men,” said Phil Morlock, vice president for Government Affairs/Advocacy at Shimano. “We are already looking forward to even more interest in the scholarship program next year, and interest more young anglers to pursue careers in fish and wildlife management fields.”

For more information on the Shimano Varsity Program, visit