A new club at North Heights Junior High School in Texarkana is about fishing and a whole lot more.

The  Fishing Club is the newest extracurricular activity offered to seventh and eighth graders. Of course, students fish in the Fishing Club; however, in addition to learning the basics of how to fish, students learn fish anatomy, fish identification, water ecology, fish population in our area and human impact on fish habitat and the ecosystem.

And there's more.

“There are great lessons to be learned in fishing: patience and peacefulness, the symmetry and rhythm of nature and the reminder that we must take care of our environment,” said club sponsor Nathan Thomas.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, students who participate in extracurricular activities have a 15 percent higher classroom attendance rate than students who are not involved. Students in the fishing club are required to maintain good behavior, grades and attendance.
“For some students, the club will become their motivation to perform better in school,” said Thomas.  “A lot of kids may not have the talent or desire to play football or basketball, but everybody can fish — no matter your size, income level, nationality or gender.”
Thomas attended training offered by the Arkansas Game and Fish commission and became a certified sponsor. The certification allows the fishing club access to the Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs program. The program uses angling skill development as a gateway to teach youth about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and how to deal with the challenges they face. Additionally, the club received 30 fishing rods and the opportunity to have a local public, pond stocked by the commission.
Students have fishing trips planned for one Saturday in every month. “I am so excited about this new club,” Thomas said. “This is another great opportunity for students to get involved in school activities.”  Thomas said as the club grows, students will participate in tournaments and fishing scrambles.