Shimano 'Varsity Program' scholarship winners

LADSON, S.C. –  Paying for college this academic year became a bit easier for the just-announced 12 winners of the Shimano ‘Varsity Program’ scholarship program. Developed in conjunction with B.A.S.S. Conservation, this key initiative of Shimano’s program to assist high school and college students with their career goals includes six recent high school graduates, a current undergrad and five post-graduate students, all pursuing degrees in various conservation, fisheries and wildlife sciences and management fields.

“The scholarship program is accomplishing what is needed in fisheries management,” said Shimano youth fishing coordinator Frank Hyla. “While our 12 new winners all have great goals they are striving for, past scholarships recipients including Arkansas Tech grad Peter Leonard, working as a fisheries specialist for the Minnesota DNR, and Stephen Stang, a Virginia Tech grad, who is working at the Dauphin Island, Ala. Sea Lab on red snapper management issues, show that the scholarships are being put to good use, benefiting both fresh and saltwater anglers.

Each received $2,000 awards to be used for tuition, textbooks, and living expenses. The recent high school graduate winners include:

Justin Hall from Lineville, Ala., a graduate of Central High School of Clay County who plans to study Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture at Auburn University;

Morgan Noffsinger from Interlochen, Mich., a Benzie Central High School graduate attending Michigan State University in hopes of one day she is working for the Michigan DNR or the National Park Service;

Wyatt Sipple from Patriot, Ohio, a Gallia Academy High School graduate attending the University of Rio Grande to study wildlife conservation;

Samuel Smith from Dunlap, Ill. and a graduate of Dunlap High School, who is attending Auburn University studying Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture;

Jared Sparks from Rogersville, Ark., who is studying Environmental Biology at the University of North Alabama;
Kyle Svachula from Niles, Ill., a graduate of Notre Dame College Prep with plans to work for a Great Lakes area state or federal fisheries agency after his studies at the University of Wisconsin/Stevens Point.

Winners already pursuing their degrees include:

Ethan Brandt from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, a graduate student studying Fisheries Sciences at the University of Wisconsin/Stevens Point whose thesis focuses on the factors affecting walleye angling recruitment failure;

Robert Eckelburger from Auburn, Ala., and an Auburn University grad student whose thesis work is on determining angler catch rates by remote sensing;

Clay Ferguson from Huddleston, Va., whose thesis work as a Virginia Tech graduate student is on improving efficiency in fish hatchery operations;

Derek Kane from Lincoln, Neb., a University of Nebraska grad student whose thesis focuses on modeling fishing pressure to help managers;

Bandon Plunkett from Russelville, Ark., an Arkansas Tech University fisheries and wildlife grad student whose thesis focuses on smallmouth bass in Arkansas mountain streams;

Savannah Rampy from Albuquerque, N.M., an undergrad at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas studying wildlife biology.

The Shimano/B.A.S.S. Conservation scholarship partnership encourages and supports high school and college-age anglers to pursue a degree in fishery management, scientific research, and related natural resource professions.

According to Phil Morlock, Vice President for Government Affairs/Advocacy for Shimano North American Fishing, Inc., the program’s goal is to curtail the critical decline in resource management professionals who fish within state, regional, provincial and federal agencies.

“Previous years' recipients and those who were awarded scholarships this year are all avid anglers,” said B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland. “Some fish competitively on their high school or college teams while others just fish recreationally. But they all show that passion and love for the sport of fishing - and that will help them make a connection with their future constituents as they pursue their careers in fisheries and natural resource management."

Shimano’s Varsity Program also helps young anglers learn about fishing tackle and techniques, provides industry networking opportunities at Shimano ‘Career Seminar’ events, and stresses the role anglers have in fishing conservation and advocacy.

For more information about on the ‘Shimano Varsity’ program, visit: http://varsity.shimano.com.