Virginia brings bass fishing to classroom

A proper education isn’t complete without bass fishing classes.

At least, that’s a philosophy that schools in Virginia are beginning to adopt, thanks to the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation of Virginia (BFNV).

B.A.S.S. to Class, a program developed by BFNV, is starting to spread throughout the state in third- and fourth-grade classes. It was first introduced in 2008 as a pilot program in Martinsville Middle School. Now, organizer Delores Martin has expanded it to include field trips to fish hatcheries and other local sites of interest in her technology program.

B.A.S.S. to Class teaches math, technology and science to children using Bassmaster Magazine, Lowrance GPS units, CastingKids and a lesson plan.

Teacher and BFNV member Joel Eberts introduced his class at Woolridge Elementary School to CastingKids using Zebco rods and reels at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year, and he ended the year by holding five days of CastingKids competition in the class. His students went on to compete at the state level.

Another BFNV member, Jeff Freeman, introduced the program to his son’s class, where Freeman’s former teacher was still teaching. Freeman, who won the 2007 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship presented by Yamaha and Skeeter, took his boat to the school for the students to experience. Freeman hosted CastingKids in the school gymnasium, and student Sean Morgan won the contest and advanced to the state level. Nearly 80 students participated in the B.A.S.S. to Class.

“This program takes advance planning and often more than one trip is required,” said Joan Blankenship, former BFNV president, noting all the work that goes into setting up a B.A.S.S. to Class for a school.

“Every school in Virginia is different, and the level of understanding of what B.A.S.S. is and what it can do in the educational process depends on the individual teacher and the principal,” added Blankenship. “B.A.S.S. to Class is also designed to reach students at a much younger age than the junior angler programs and provides a forum for teachers who can expand on the program to meet individual needs. The overall goal is to get teachers to use B.A.S.S. resources in their classrooms.”

B.A.S.S. to Class has even gained sponsor support from Lowrance, Zebco, GEICO Insurance and pro angler Christiana Bradley.

“There was little interest in alternative educational programs that involved environmental issues back when we started,” said Blankenship. “Today, there are hundreds of them being introduced nationwide.”

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