County students 'explore' their interests at camp

June 17, 2011

By ASHLEY JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer

Students of Henry County Schools are “exploring” their interests in new and exciting ways.

The students are enrolled in the county schools’ seventh annual Explore Camp, which is a four-day camp held at Fieldale-Collinsville Middle on Monday through today.

This year there are 225 campers in grades four through eight, and all 12 classes are full.

“It’s the largest camp we (the school system) have had,” said Melany Stowe, communication coordinator for the county schools.

Classes range from “Let’s Dance!” to “21st Century Art” to “Let’s Go Fishin’.”

The “Let’s Go Fishin’” class, which has 15 students, was the first class to be filled, Stowe said.

Through the fishing class, the students get to fish daily but they also learn about different careers pertaining to the class. “The students get to see the connections to a possible career right here in Martinsville and Henry County,” Stowe said.

For instance, on Tuesday, representatives of Blue Ridge Aquaculture visited the students to explain the career opportunities in the fishing industry.

Jim Franklin of Blue Ridge Aquaculture taught the students about the different ways to grow fish and how valuable fish are as a species. He explained about Blue Ridge’s indoor recirculating aquaculture facility and how it controls the water conditions to have healthy fish.

He said he wanted the students to understand how the company provides fish to large populations and that fish do not just come from a pond.

Franklin told the students that Blue Ridge Aquaculture ships 4 million pounds of tilapia a year. “We have 35 employees in tilapia operations,” he added.

Martin Gardner with Blue Ridge explained the company’s shrimp operations. Last October, Blue Ridge Aquaculture received a grant from the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission to start a pilot scale system to begin shipping shrimp from the facility in the future, Gardner said.

He told the students that 90 percent of the shrimp that consumers eat are from Asian countries, but Blue Ridge is working to produce shrimp locally, he said.

Franklin and Gardner also showed the students how to filet a fish and how to grill a fish properly.

Alanna Keaton, one of the three girls in the class, said that she didn’t like eating fish. But after sampling the fish tacos that Franklin prepared, she changed her mind.

Keaton said that she learned a lot from Blue Ridge Aquaculture’s visit to the class, including a “new fish (tilapia) that I’ve never heard of before and that they sell a lot of fish throughout the year,” she said.

The “Let’s Go Fishin’” class is taught by Darryl Holland, agriculture teacher at Magna Vista High School, and Brian Stowe, a math teacher at Fieldale-Collinsville Middle.

The students have learned fishing skills such as how to cast and how to put on hooks. “They just want to go fishing,” Holland said, adding that some of the students have never caught a fish before. “They really enjoy getting outside and so do I.”

The students primarily fish at Camp Lee Ford in Ridgeway and the city reservoir, Holland said. Each day when the students go fishing, Holland keeps a score card to tally the number of fish each student catches.

Tonight, during the camp’s concluding awards reception, the student who caught the most fish will be recognized, he said.

“We get to fish every day... It’s fun,” said Robert Tatum, one of the students, adding that he has been fishing since he was 2.

“I’ve been fishing for a long time,” Keaton said. This class allows her to “have fun and get to fish more,” she said.


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