The reel classroom
Students got some outdoor education during the annual fifth grade fishing day on Thursday.
Classes from Mount Vernon-Ruth and Rutherfordton elementary schools enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere at Willow Island Outdoor Recreation Park as they tossed out their lines and patiently waited to reel in a big one.
"It's a good opportunity for teachers and kids to get to know each other on another level. It gets them outside of the classroom," said Wade Landis, owner of the park.
The classes have been participating in fishing day for five years.
"It's something they can do throughout their lifetime. Some of them have never been fishing before," said Karen Gray, physical education teacher at Rutherfordton Elementary. "My favorite part of the day is just seeing the excitement on their faces when they catch a fish. They all say they want to come back and fish again."
Student Matthew Chambers brought home the biggest fish with a measure of 17 inches.
Members of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission stocked the lake with fish, provided rods and bait for the students and assisted in teaching the first-time fishers. They taught the students how to cast and how to remove the fish from the hook.
"This is a heritage that is usually passed down through generations. But many families now are broken and there is a lot more competition for time because of cell phones and computers," said Lt. Mitchell Kirkland of the Wildlife Resources Commission. "This gets the kids back to the outdoors and shows them they can have fun outside. Just to get outside and enjoy what nature provides for you."