It might have taken a little longer than planned to pull together, but this winter, Somerset High School students will have the opportunity to get out onto lakes across the state to ice fish against students from all over Wisconsin.
"The students who came to me about starting the club just love fishing and the outdoors. A lot of the kids also wanted something to do during the winter time since many of them don't play a sport during the winter season," said biology, Earth and space science teacher Keaton Anderson. "The events and what not will be mainly on the weekends, so it will allow club members to continue doing what they do during the week and just have to come to the weekend competitions."
The club, which was approved by the Somerset Board of Education at its Aug. 6 work session, won't just give students the chance to get outside during the winter, Anderson said; it will also teach them about the environment.
"I want people to know that being a part of the club will enhance the knowledge of those that join and make them much more mindful of the effects of both human and natural phenomena," Anderson said. "These young men and women are the key to creating a sustainable future and need to understand how the environment works around them with the hope they will spread their knowledge to others confidently. This knowledge will also help them become lifelong learners as well as be successful in our competitions this year."
In order to go to competitions, Anderson said, students will be doing flipped classroom activities that teach them about important ideas and issues real biologists face every day. Subjects for their activities might include: hook mortality, invasive species identification, lake turnover effects and the reasoning behind daily limit counts.
"During our first year, we are going to stick with ice fishing this year since that requires less logistics wise than open water fishing, which also just isn't as popular with the kids at this point either," Anderson said. "Ice fishing makes more sense by the numbers, but we will get into open water fishing eventually."
Anderson currently has 25 signatures from students interested in joining the club, but he anticipates more than 35 students. Teams are made up of four students and Anderson hopes to have at least a couple teams signed up for every competition the club plans to attend. The ice fishing season lasts two months, but it doesn't start until after the holiday season in January. Events will take place on Saturdays and will be hosted by organizations across the state.
The students who sign up for the club will be fundraising heavily throughout the next several months in order to fund the club, Anderson said, with the biggest cost being travel.
"A lot of kids will come and bring their own things, which is encouraged, but for some kids that don't have anything, I'd like to give them something. I don't want kids to pay to go to tournaments or paying for their teams. That should be something we can provide for them," Anderson said. "We will also try to get our hands on some portable shacks and some ice augers, too."
Anyone interested in joining the club should reach out to Anderson, either at school or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those interested in donating to the club or volunteering can also contact Anderson.
"It will be a learning experience for sure. But it will be very fun. It gives a pretty cool opportunity for kids to get involved with something more unique and outdoorsy in the winter time. I don't think we have any other club where people can go outside and investigate, so this club will be the closest thing to that," Anderson said.