Academic journal article Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore

Fishing Partners: Remembering Cory Weyant

Academic journal article Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore

Fishing Partners: Remembering Cory Weyant

Article excerpt

One of the reasons that folklorists like me choose to bring local fishermen and baymen to schools is because we believe that the best education comes from interacting-with rich knowledgeable tradition bearers who can teach us about their tradition. I first began working with bayman Cory Weyant of Freeport, New York, in 1987, first as an ethnographer and then as a partner with the Freeport school district. Cory, who passed away in March 2011, was a natural born storyteller and educator, regaling any audience, young and old, with stories about crabbing, eeling, clamming, and trawling--traditional activities he learned as a boy growing up on the "Nautical Mile" of Freeport. After a year of learning about the bay, we decided it might be a good idea to teach the children of Freeport how baymen continued the traditions of their waterfront community.

Cory mastered the art of presenting to schoolchildren and began photographing more activities of his fellow fishermen and baymen. From this partnership which lasted over 20 years, I, too, learned many things. Cory would ask for things he felt would help him tell his story, such as a chart of fish caught in local waters, or some clamshells from different types of clammers (we have five types of clams on Long Island). He also knew what he expected the students to know before his visit, so we prepared a student maritime magazine with glossary terms, stories we had collected from other fishers, and word games to help them remember terms Cory would use in his presentation.

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We also learned how much more meaningful the science curriculum became to students. Often the teachers would say that they had little understanding of the fishing seasons and migratory patterns of wildlife and fish before Cory came into their classroom. They also said the programs opened students' minds to the natural world in a way that the students could connect to. …

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