Shimano ‘Varsity Program’ scholarship program

Paying for college this academic year became a bit easier for the just-announced 12 winners of
the Shimano ‘Varsity Program’ scholarship program. Developed in conjunction with B.A.S.S.
Conservation, this key initiative of Shimano’s program to assist high school and college students
with their career goals includes six recent high school graduates, a current undergrad and five
post-graduate students, all pursuing degrees in various conservation, fisheries and wildlife
sciences and management fields.

“The scholarship program is accomplishing what is needed in fisheries management,”
said Shimano youth fishing coordinator Frank Hyla. “While our 12 new winners all have great
goals they are striving for, past scholarships recipients including Arkansas Tech grad Peter
Leonard, working as a fisheries specialist for the Minnesota DNR, and Stephen Stang, a Virginia
Tech grad, who is working at the Dauphin Island, Ala. Sea Lab on red snapper management
issues, show that the scholarships are being put to good use, benefiting both fresh and saltwater

Each received $2,000 awards to be used for tuition, textbooks, and living expenses. The
recent high school graduate winners include:

Justin Hall from Lineville, Ala., a graduate of Central High School of Clay County who plans
to study Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture at Auburn University;
Morgan Noffsinger from Interlochen, Mich., a Benzie Central High School graduate attending
Michigan State University in hopes of one day she is working for the Michigan DNR or the
National Park Service;

Wyatt Sipple from Patriot, Ohio, a Gallia Academy High School graduate attending the
University of Rio Grande to study wildlife conservation;

Samuel Smith from Dunlap, Ill. and a graduate of Dunlap High School, who is attending
Auburn University studying Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture;

Jared Sparks from Rogersville, Ark., who is studying Environmental Biology at the University
of North Alabama;

Kyle Svachula from Niles, Ill., a graduate of Notre Dame College Prep with plans to work for a
Great Lakes area state or federal fisheries agency after his studies at the University of
Wisconsin/Stevens Point.

Winners already pursuing their degrees include:

Ethan Brandt from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, a graduate student studying Fisheries Sciences at the
University of Wisconsin/Stevens Point whose thesis focuses on the factors affecting walleye
angling recruitment failure;

Robert Eckelburger from Auburn, Ala., and an Auburn University grad student whose thesis
work is on determining angler catch rates by remote sensing;

Clay Ferguson from Huddleston, Virg., whose thesis work as a Virginia Tech graduate student
is on improving efficiency in fish hatchery operations;

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Derek Kane from Lincoln, Neb., a University of Nebraska grad student whose thesis focuses on
modeling fishing pressure to help managers;

Bandon Plunkett from Russelville, Ark., an Arkansas Tech University fisheries and wildlife
grad student whose thesis focuses on smallmouth bass in Arkansas mountain streams;
Savannah Rampy from Albuquerque, N.M., an undergrad at West Texas A&M University in
Canyon, Texas studying wildlife biology.

The Shimano/B.A.S.S. Conservation scholarship partnership encourages and supports
high school and college-age anglers to pursue a degree in fishery management, scientific
research, and related natural resource professions. According to Phil Morlock, Vice President for
Government Affairs/Advocacy for Shimano North American Fishing, Inc., the program’s goal is
to curtail the critical decline in resource management professionals who fish within state,
regional, provincial and federal agencies.

“Previous years' recipients and those who were awarded scholarships this year are all
avid anglers,” said B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland. “Some fish competitively on
their high school or college teams while others just fish recreationally.  But they all show that
passion and love for the sport of fishing – and that will help them make a connection with their
future constituents as they pursue their careers in fisheries and natural resource management. & quot;

Shimano’s Varsity Program also helps young anglers learn about fishing tackle and
techniques, provides industry networking opportunities at Shimano ‘Career Seminar’ events, and
stresses the role anglers have in fishing conservation and advocacy.


For more information about on the ‘Shimano Varsity’ program, visit:



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