Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Now You Can Fish for Scholarships

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Now You Can Fish for Scholarships

Article excerpt

Aundrea Welch went offshore fishing in 1994 and caught sea bass,

a shark and "some big pink-looking fish." As a result of that

fishing trip, Welch landed something even bigger.

On Wednesday, the 19-year-old was named the first recipient of

a Hooked on School Scholarship Fund college scholarship. Welch,

who graduated from Englewood High earlier this month, will

attend Florida Community College at Jacksonville on the grant.

"It's really nice that they're doing something like this for

us," Welch said. "I'm going to try and become a physical


The scholarship fund is an offshoot of the annual Hooked on

School Fishing Tournament, in which Welch participated. Mayport

partyboat Capt. George Strate and Laura Emerson of the Florida

Department of Juvenile Justice hatched the idea seven years ago

-- a fishing tournament for disadvantaged youths, some of whom

had never even seen the ocean before.

"To participate, they must be enrolled in school and

attending," said Emerson, who coordinates recruitment of the

youths through area child-serving agencies.

The tournament is held each September, with captains in the

Jacksonville Offshore Sport Fishing Club donating their boats

and time, and various sponsors such as Winn-Dixie and Dandy

Foods also chipping in.

Capt. Rick Ryals, of the Florida Sportsman Live fishing show on

Sports Radio 930, introduced the scholarship element to the

tournament three years ago.

"The idea was born during a commercial on the show," Ryals

said. "We wanted to do more than just take them offshore


Ryals and John Galeani of Isuzu City instituted an annual

Hooked on School Garage Sale, the proceeds of which go to the

scholarship fund. Other sources of funding come from

contributions from individuals and groups such as organizers of

this weekend's Tournament Fisherman's Championship. …

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