- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
About this time every December, many of us reflect on the year that's about to end.
I do believe darn few Americans will be sorry to see 2012 finally go.
Oh, there were plenty of events to make 2012 remarkable from the presidential election through Superstorm Sandy to all the talk about going over that upcoming fiscal cliff.
However, the pall created by the horrific massacre of all those innocent children (and adults) in Connecticut casts a very dark shadow over everything else.
I spoke to one of my friends a few days after it happened. I asked him what kind of new legislation did he think might help bring an end to such unspeakable brutality.
“None,” he answered. “You just can't legislate crazy.”
Last week, the National Rifle Association blamed video games, movies and music videos for exposing children to a violent culture and suggested an armed police officer be posted in every American school. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's top lobbyist.
Has the American culture really gotten to the point where we need armed guards in every school? Shall we include Amish schools?
That's a real poor testimonial to our society.
Some elected legislatures are suggesting we arm teachers and administrators while other groups are calling for an end to military-type rifles, loopholes in gun show weapon sales and a ban on large capacity magazines that make it possible to shoot lots of bullets without reloading.
You can bet these issues will be discussed plenty in the weeks to come and I'm sure the 'letters to the editor' section of the paper will have no shortage of activity.
Well before this latest tragedy in Connecticut, the Future Fisherman Foundation was already at work on part of the problem. Their concern was with children being immersed in electronic virtual reality during almost every waking moment our younger ones have to spare.
Says Mark Gintert, who heads the foundation, “A lot of kids have an almost total disconnect from the natural world today. It's not good for them physically or emotionally, and it's not good for the future of conservation and natural places in America, either.”
Gintert is aiming to make fishing part of our children's lives through our nation's schools, just like football, basketball and other sports.
“Some schools have teams for fairly peripheral sports like bowling, and there's no reason that they can't have fishing as well if they're given the necessary support and training for the educations,” says Gintert. “Fishing is family oriented, it's physically healthy, it gets kids outside and it teaches them the basics of conservation -- it's an easy sell once we present it to school administrators.”
Though limited, there has already been some success.
Some 10,000 students are currently participating in hundreds of schools nationwide in some kind of tournament fishing format.
Gintert is reporting getting 15 to 20 requests for information in one day when the word has been spread from kids to kids.
One huge plus for the Future Fisherman Foundation in getting this program really going nationwide is they've already set up insurance for participating schools.
“Every school district is concerned about litigation these days,” says Gintert. “We set up $1 million-dollar insurance programs that protects against all the common issues including injuries and abuse that has gone a long way with a lot of administrators.”
They also have a sunglasses promotion where the school-based clubs can purchase polarized glasses at a greatly reduced cost and then sell them making a $9 profit from each pair sold. The glasses come in school colors with school logos and one club sold 1,000 pairs for a $9,000 earning.
Kentucky and Illinois have already accepted the Future Fisherman Foundation into their state high school athletics association and New Hampshire will be on board soon.
Last year, 124 teams from nearly half the states in our union competed at a national championship event with first place paying out a four-year college scholarship.
Right now, Murray State College in Kentucky is organizing an open high school tournament to be held March 3, 2013 on Kentucky Lake. The winning team there will earn additional scholarships through the Bass Federation's Student Angler group. The national FLW tournament circuit is partnered with the Future Fisherman Foundation now and are helping to organize local, state and regional events all across the country.
If you'd like to learn more about these student fishing associations and structured fishing opportunities for high school students, check out: www.highschoolfishing.org.
Eagles at Allen's Fresh
I drove down Route 234 in Charles County a few days ago and the bald eagles I had reported on in this column last week were still there.
If you get lucky and they haven't left when you visit, take some binoculars along for those will really enhance the experience.
You can come to Allen's Fresh by going south on U.S. 301 from La Plata, and turn left onto Route 234 as if you're going to Leonardtown. When you cross the first water bridge, pull over to the right side of the highway and look out to the right.
My wife was with me and we couldn't count all those eagles fast enough to get an accurate tally, but there were surely many dozens.
It was really a grand sight.
The birds are there feasting on the remains of fish stranded when the high water conditions from Superstorm Sandy finally receded.
I doubt this natural spectacle will be there much longer.
Last light show weekend
You still have time to see that fantastic light show at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis. This will be the last weekend for the presentation will only continue through Tuesday.
This light show features a 2-mile scenic drive with approximately 70 animated and stationary holiday displays. Scenes from the Naval Academy are also highlighted including the midshipmen tossing their hats in the air at graduation.
Open nightly from 5 to 10 p.m. Admission is $14 per car. For more information call 443-481-3161.