- Associated Press - Sunday, February 12, 2017

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Everyone knows that fish like schools, and it turns out that some schools - especially community colleges - like fish, too.

An eight-hour course titled Crappie and Catfish Go To College is offered Tuesday and Thursday evenings this month at Tulsa Tech, touted as the oldest and largest school in Oklahoma’s CareerTech System.

Sign-ups are open and trickling in for the crappie course, which features a catfish kickoff day, according to Crappie University founder Gary White. Last spring the crappie-only class drew 180 students in Tulsa, he told the Tulsa World (https://bit.ly/2k9qwF2 ).

White is no stranger to the academic concept and is a recognized nationwide leader in fishing education.

As an American history instructor and director of financial aid at Rose State College in Oklahoma City in 1975, White started a class called Bass Fishing Techniques.

That course exploded in popularity and ran for 20 years in schools across the country until the Bass Angler Sportsman Society, then owned by ESPN, bought the course and named it Bassmaster University.

“We were an overnight sensation,” White said. “After 20 years, we were recognized in the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.”

Community and tech colleges are the ideal locations for fishing classes because they have continuing education roles in the community, he said.

White draws a clear distinction between a “class” and a “fishing seminar.”

“This is eight hours of instruction and discussion with instructors who are the best in their field,” he said. “It’s not a seminar.”

Continuing education means different things to different people, he said.

“More and more it’s developing into workforce development type classes, but the schools have a responsibility to the community to offer enrichment-type courses,” White said. “You’ll find courses in quilting, guitar, woodworking, other things that may seem whimsical to some people, but this is the school giving a person a chance to come out and do something that they never knew how to do, and that’s where fishing fits in.”

Fishing also can draw a crowd, and that’s good for the school, he said.

“It does end up drawing people out to the colleges who might not have been otherwise,” White said. “They see what the college offers and they may come back for something else.

“Our fishing classes have always been a good fit at the schools.”

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Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com


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