The popular Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center needs more room to accommodate schoolchildren - here’s how you can help.
On a recent drizzly morning, dozens of people, young and old, filed through the gate at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, some with fishing rods in hand, ready to ply their skills at the casting pond, while others came to watch the interactive dive show, where feeding the fish is one of the main attractions.
The TFFC occupies 107 acres adjacent to Lake Athens, approximately 4 miles east of the city. In addition to hatchery services, it provides hands-on educational programming, including angling, aquatic education, nature study and hunter education for more than 60,000 visitors annually. Those who want to fish but don’t have their own equipment may use the Zebco rods and reels free of charge. Sometimes the center can be too popular, filling up fast, for example, when large school groups show up.
While most of the facilities necessary to carry out the TFFC mission already exist, a new education building will enable the Center to improve the quality of its educational programming. The new 10,000-square-foot building would provide flexible space for classrooms, offices and a game warden museum.
The 50-member fundraising committee, “Schooling for Bass,” is chaired by Richard Hart. An avid angler who achieved two world-record fly rod catches, Hart hopes to give the next generation of anglers a boost by using his enthusiasm, fishing knowledge and business skills to lead the TFFC’s efforts to fund the new educational building.
Hart has served on the boards of numerous corporate, educational and civic organizations. His leadership experience and expertise has encouraged many other volunteers to work hard in this fundraising effort. Johnny Morris of Bass Pro Shops has pledged matching funds, dollar for dollar, up to $650,000.
The “Schooling for Bass” banquet will be April 16 at the Embassy Suites Hotel, adjacent to the Bass Pro Shop, in Grapevine. A few tables (10 seats per table, $1000) and individual tickets ($100) are still available. The silent auction begins at 5:30 p.m., and dinner is at 7:30 p.m. For tickets, call Schelly Storm (214) 360-3912. If you would like to contribute to this project, please make checks payable to The Friends of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, and mail them to the TFFC at 5550 FM 2495, Athens, TX 75752.