Outreach Advisory Committee Established. New for 2017 was the formation of the Outreach Advisory Committee. Volunteers agreeing to serve on the initial committee were Jim Bailey, Chuck Dietsch, Carol Marines, Ted Migues, Emily Taylor (Boys and Girls Club Operations Director), and Nick Revill, Chair. We brought in Emily Taylor to foster closer communication with the constituency that Outreach serves. One of the committee’s major accomplishments was to develop a mission statement for the Outreach program:
To impact the local community and develop positive relationships with diverse groups through fishing experiences.
The Outreach Advisory Committee will play a critical role in helping to grow, refine and improve the program’s longstanding record of success.
Bait Donated. In another first, Ted Migues secured the donation of bait for the 2017 season from Carolina Bait in Canton, NC. A sign acknowledging their generous contribution was displayed at all Outreach events. Jim Bailey volunteered his mini-fridge and together with Ted maintained viable bait throughout the season.
Balls in Play. Building on the enhanced playground facility at Atagahi Park, this year four basketballs and a volleyball were donated to the program. The Advisory Committee supported the idea. This allows the kids to let off steam after a morning spent patiently fishing and has been a well-received adjunct to our program. We also learned that there is a tendency for the balls to find their way downhill into Lake Atagahi (through no fault of the kids!) but that Connestee residents nearby in boats are only too happy to help return the balls to shore. For 2018, two soccer balls will be donated, since we observed kids using the volleyball to work on their footwork.
T-Shirt Program. For the second year, we continued to distribute t-shirts to all local groups which included school-age children. This was well-received again this year with the exception of some of the older kids who got the t-shirt last year and were not as enthusiastic.
Keeping our Clients Warm and Dry. For the 2016 season, the voting members of the Executive Committee approved the purchase of mylar blankets for warming on chilly days. For the 2018 season, Outreach will be seeking approval to purchase emergency ponchos for use on rainy days. Our experience with the Sheriff’s Shield Camp–which provides ponchos for their campers–demonstrated their usefulness. Our experience with another group taught us that some of the young clients we serve do not even own a coat.
Transylvania Times Editorial Support. Outreach volunteers were surprised and gratified when on June 29 the program received editorial recognition from the Transylvania Times. An excerpt is reproduced below:
Helping Youth and the Disabled
In addition to the overnight camps, there are many local organizations that provide camp-like experiences or outdoor outings for youth and the disabled. One such organization is the Connestee Falls Fishing Club. Recently the club hosted several disabled adults from Transylvania Vocational Services at Atagahi Park…. Last year, the club’s 28 volunteers hosted 229 anglers of different ages and abilities. These volunteers give their time and money to provide an enjoyable experience to those who otherwise may never have cast a fishing line.
We commend all of those camps, organizations and volunteers who help provide outdoor experiences for our youth and disabled. It not only enriches the campers, but our community as well.
Fish Feeder a Success! In May 2017, the Club’s Fisheries Management obtained and installed a fish feeder near the Atagahi docks. As a result, the likelihood of any angler coming to an Outreach event catching a fish increased from 60% in 2016 to 100% in 2017. Upping the catch rate boosts the enthusiasm of the entire group.
By the Numbers. In 2016 we hosted 16 events with 229 participants. That year Outreach had 28 Connestee Fishing Club volunteers. In 2017 we hosted 18 events with 320 participants and 25 Connestee volunteers. It is critical that we grow our volunteer base. Volunteers freely and generously donate their time, but burnout can happen and we can’t afford to lose our most valuable strengths. It is vital that we encourage more volunteers to help with all facets of Outreach.
Pisgah Wildlife Center/Goodwill Industries – April 10
Contact: Lee Sherrill, Pisgah Wildlife Education Center, (w) 828-877-4423
In case of rain, call Center.
Driver got lost somewhere in Cedar Mountain. Event cancelled. An effort was made to re-schedule, but no response was received from Goodwill Industries staff. Not the most promising outcome for a season opener.
Black Mountain Home for Children – April 13
Contact: Dan Windmiller, (w) 828-686-3006,
Fifteen anglers ranging in age from 12 to 18. A very nice group of well-behaved teens on a beautiful spring day. Black Mountain Home is a residential foster care facility with a satellite here in Brevard. Some of these young people stay at the facility more than five years, and, if applicable, call it home through college. The catch was not earth-shattering, but no one appeared bored, and all seemed to have a good time. Three bluegill; two bass; three trout. T-shirts were distributed and were much appreciated.
Special Olympics—April 22
Contact: Marian Wolf, 885-2430
We had a fine, sunny morning. Marian and Frank Wolf provided coffee and doughnuts for participants and volunteers. There were a total of 30 athletes. As always, a great group to both amuse and inspire. We’re happy to have the opportunity to entertain them. The group receives t-shirts, since there are some school-age athletes. A total of 25 t-shirts were distributed. Seven bluegill and four trout. Afterwards, Marian served lunch and set out games.
Pisgah Wildlife Center/Goodwill Industries – May 1 (see above)
This group was rained out. Again, an effort was made to re-schedule, but no response was received from Goodwill Industries staff. We will try again next year. This kind of an event is often contingent on the interest of the staff person assigned to handle group activities for the organization.
Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS)—May 16
Contact: Suzanne Byers, (w) 884-3195
Also, Carla Hill
Thirteen anglers landed a miserable two bluegill and one bass but remained engaged and enthusiastic.
Cedar Mountain House—May 18
Contact: Kera Mintz, 884-9510
In case of rain, call her at 885-9510, before 8 a.m.
(if can’t reach, ask for Cindy, Resident Care Director)
Cedar Mountain House is an assisted living facility and a neighbor of the Connestee Falls Community. The resident care director told us that this annual outing is one of their residents’ favorite. Six anglers, two in wheelchairs, caught three bluegill and three bass.
Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS)—May 25 (see above)
A warm day with eight enthusiastic anglers. A young, blind woman named Grace caught a brim and was able to touch it to her obvious delight. Catch five brim, one bass.
Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS)—May 31 (see above)
Ten anglers, one of whom, Mathias, is a Connestee resident. Chris Brown worked with Mathias, whose mother posted thanks on Nextdoor. Following the event we delivered a t-shirt to Mathias. Six bluegill were caught.
El Centro—June 13
Contact: Rodrigo Vargas, (w) 883-2900
Also Judy Nebrig in office
Fifteen total participants including four mothers, and our youngest ever anglers who went to sleep in their playpen. A hot and humid day. Luckily we always have a supply of sunscreen. Catch was six bluegill and one bass. The group had a picnic afterwards in the Pavilion and used our loaner basketballs to play with after lunch.
Boys & Girls Club—June 21
Contact: Emily Taylor, (w) 885-7800
Sixteen anglers with three chaperones. This was the first event in memory at Lake Ticoa due to the water quality at Lake Atagahi. On and off light drizzle for the entire event. The group fished from the dock and by the boat ramp and boat storage area. Catch was seven bluegill and two bass. We returned to the Pavilion at Atagahi for their lunch and basketball.
Sheriff’s Shield Camp—June 22
Contact: Jim Ungaro, 877-5600
Client Contact: Lt. Greg Stroup, (w) 884-3168, (c) 553-9825
Twenty-nine seventh-grade anglers accompanied by 10 officers. The event was held at Lake Wanteska due to continued poor water quality at Lake Atagahi. The Sheriff’s program gave the kids ponchos—a good thing since it was raining cats and dogs for the entire event. The volunteers, however, became very soggy. Chris Brown provided a rubber worm for one participant, who, for religious reasons, did not want to use live bait. She then proceeded to land a 16” bass! They did not stay for lunch, as the rain continued unabated and the Wanteska pavilion was not yet completed. Catch, 10 bluegill, one bass, one trout.
Boys & Girls Club—June 21 (see above)
Thirteen fifth-grade anglers and three chaperones. It was a beautiful day, and Ray Tuers was able to get some pictures on the bus on the way to Atagahi. The fishing was spotty, but they persevered and ended up catching nine bluegill and a bass. Picnic lunch was taken at Atagahi Pavilion, t-shirts were given out, and the kids ran off to play in the playground.
Contact: Christi Whitworth, (w) 862-5554
P.A.R.I. is one of the settings for Duke University’s TIP program of summer studies for gifted children. Our outreach for brainiacs, these kids came from all over the country with some from overseas. Thirty anglers who had discussions about various topics, including the lack of good fishing venues in New Delhi. Catch was 16 bluegill, one trout, and six bass.
Boys & Girls Club—July 10 (see above)
Nineteen sixth and seventh-graders. A patient and keen group, they fished well and were surprisingly mature. They were rewarded with fifteen bluegill, one trout, and one perch. Lunch was at the Pavilion, and the kids played basketball.
Bound for Glory Literacy Camp—July 12
Wendy Adair, (c) 828-508-2254, husband,
Scott Adair, (c) 828-508-2145
These kids all come from very challenging backgrounds. The weather forecast that day was faulted, otherwise we would have cancelled the event. We had thunder and pouring rain and had to break out the mylar blankets. This was an afternoon event, due to the program’s academic scheduling. Twelve anglers landed 17 bluegill. The volunteers, again, got soaked.
Boys & Girls Club—July 18 (see above)
This was probably our most difficult Outreach event of the season and illustrated the importance of actively engaged chaperones from the organization. Seventeen anglers caught a total of 14 bluegill, one perch, one trout and five bass.
PARI—July 19 (see above)
A very hot day. Twenty-seven intellectual anglers were able to land six bass and 20 bluegill. The volunteers particularly enjoy working with the PARI kids.
4-H Club/County Extension—August 3
Contact: Mary Arnaudin, (w) 844-3109
A group of 10 anglers came and had a very successful day. Fishing was good, and the 4-H’ers landed 19 bluegill and three bass.
Fish-a-Rama — August 19
This year’s Fish-a-Rama was originally scheduled for June 17 but was postponed due to the pollution of Lake Atagahi. The event went well; adults were invited to participate for the first time. There were 40 participants, and 150 hot dogs were consumed. The fishing was good, and excellent photos were taken.
Cub Scouts—October 5
Contact: Katherine Galvagni (Connestee Resident), 704-689-5216
Ten cub scouts and at least a half-dozen parents arrived at 6 p.m. for fishing. The outing was to fulfill one of the requirements to earn a fishing badge when a Boy Scout. They caught four bluegill, four bass, and a trout.
Thank you to the 2017 Season Outreach Volunteers: Robert Amato, Jim Bailey, Chris Brown, Chuck Dietsch, Dorne Dietsch, Neal Estes, Marge Hanson, J.K Henebry, George Hewertson, Gillian Hillman, Rick Hybil, Cheryl Inghram, Barry Jones, Buddy Marines, Carol Marines, Ted Migues, Mike Milts, Ron Phillips, Nick Revill (Chair), Steve Seelinger, Sonny Somelofski, Ken Stark, Emily Taylor (Boys & Girls Club), Ray Tuers, Frank Wolf, Marian Wolf