Guides team up to take middle school students fishing

Posted: Friday, May 18, 2001

Students from Soldotna Middle School will be broadening their horizons Sunday when their classroom will be expanded to encompass the great outdoors -- or at least a stretch of the Kenai River.

The students will be participating in the inaugural "Take a Kid Fishing Day," put on by the Kenai River Professional Guide Association.

"One goal is for the kids to experience the resources we have here," said Soldotna Middle School principal Lee Young. "If I had one hope, it's that the parent that goes with their child -- maybe they will continue fishing together. My No. 1 goal is that the family unit does something together. We want to talk about the environment out there, but we also want to have some fun."

About 30 guides have volunteered their services for the day, which will start with a breakfast at the school sponsored by McDonald's before moving to The Pillars recreation site, which will serve as a staging area for the event.

After a day of fishing, students will get a tour of Custom Seafood Processors and be treated to a barbecue at Harry Gaines' Kenai River Fishing.

The idea for the event was spawned by Young, who had been part of a fishing club at a school he worked at in Washington. A guide during the summer, Young brought his idea to the guide association at the same time the association was looking for a new way to be involved with the community.

"We thought that would be a wonderful way of doing it," said guide association president Joe Connors.

Since the proposal was floated several months ago, many groups have contributed to the project, including the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, along with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, which have made arrangements for use of The Pillars as well as waivers for guides to be out on the river on a Sunday -- provided they are participating in the program.

"These kids are 11, 12 or 13 years old," Connors said. "This might be their first fishing trip. Hopefully, they'll have an appreciation of that experience, and they'll learn about the habitat -- all of our guides are very knowledgeable -- and about fishing. They'll be fishing in low water where you've got to be extra careful, so they'll learn about safety. And hopefully, they'll get some appreciation for what we have here."

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