• Beginning in the 2006/2007 school year, Take Me Fishing Hutsell was originally called “Take Me Fishing Houston”. It began as a pilot program through Texas Parks and Wildlife with the initiative of bringing Hispanic families together through fishing. Founded by Hutsell Elementary staff members Brenda Shaver, Karen Thornton, Lynne Malfitano, and Becky Sesin, and with the support of Principal Keiko Davidson, “Take Me Fishing Houston/Hutsell” had 15 volunteers and 77 participants. Today, we annually register over 400 participants and 100 volunteers, totaling more than 500 individuals.
    Prior to the start of “Take Me Fishing Houston/Hutsell” in 2006/2007, a Katy ISD Physical Education teacher named Mark Fobian, along with fellow teacher Ruth Turner, began a fishing club that became known as “The Golbow Angler and Conservation Club” at Golbow Elementary in the 2002/2003 school year. To get the fishing club started, Mr. Fobian received a $1,000 gift card from a student, Joseph Starks; which he won at a Kidfish Classic event, to help fund the purchase of fishing equipment. The Golbow Angler and Conservation Club branched out in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Take Me Fishing Houston initiative. With the support and partnership of Texas Parks and Wildlife, he began implementing an angler education unit on an annual basis. Mr. Fobian received a grant from the Future Fisherman Foundation (FFF) allowing Golbow to fund the equipment needed to begin their task. With the funding and support in place, Mark developed a fishing club which eventually developed into a grade-level fishing field trip.
    Brenda Shaver also worked at Golbow during that time, while Mark was introducing angler education to the students. She began learning and assisting Mr. Fobian, with the initiative along with the help of Ruth Turner and JoAnn Young.  In 2006, Brenda Shaver moved to Hutsell and Mark Fobian moved to Griffin Elementary, thus expanding the fishing education curriculum to multiple campuses in Katy ISD. Dating back two years before Golbow began their fishing education journey, Williams Elementary established an Angler Education club under the direction of PE teacher Kelley Stroud during the 2000/2002 school years. Katy ISD currently has 21 out of 42 elementary schools involved in aquatic education in some form or another. Most schools have either a fishing field trip with one grade level or have a small club they fish with. Hutsell Elementary is the sole campus in Katy ISD to bring aquatic education to the size and scope of “Take Me Fishing Hutsell”. 
    During the 2006/2007 school year, Hutsell Elementary was awarded the Future Fisherman Foundation Grant as well, becoming the third school in Katy ISD to receive one, the first two being Golbow Elementary and Katy High School. In 2006, there were 84 schools nationwide to receive the prestigious award and Hutsell was the only school in Texas to be awarded the grant. Fast forward to 2009, the program is known as “Take Me Fishing Houston” was no longer considered a pilot program through Texas Parks and Wildlife. Hutsell Elementary asked Texas Parks and Wildlife for the rights to change the name exclusively to “Take Me Fishing Hutsell.” Texas Parks and Wildlife formally grants Hutsell’s request and the annual program has been since known as “Take Me Fishing Hutsell”. 
    During the 2011/2012 school year, Texas Parks and Wildlife recognized “Take Me Fishing Hutsell” in Austin and former principal, Keiko Davidson represented Hutsell Elementary and was featured in Texas Parks and Wildlife’s state-wide magazine. During the 2012/2013 school year, Robert Brashear was hired as the Hutsell Elementary PE teacher and became the coordinator for “Take Me Fishing Hutsell”, where he currently holds the position. Upon the retirement of Keiko Davidson in the 2013/2014 school year, Dr. Margie Blount was promoted from Assistant Principal to Principal of Hutsell Elementary. Our program, Take Me Fishing Hutsell, is now entering its 13th year in 2019!
    In order to prepare students for participating in “Take Me Fishing Hutsell”, children in third, fourth, and fifth grade are taught many aquatic and angler skills during their physical education class in the weeks leading up to the event. Some of the topics and skills (but not limited to) are rules and regulations for fishing in the state of Texas, aquatic conservation, how to cast a fishing pole and safely handle the pole, how to assemble a proper tackle box, how to bait a hook, how to tie several angler knots, how to attach a hook to the fishing line, how to stay safe while fishing and being outdoors, fish identification, length and weight limits on caught fish, fish anatomy, and much more! 

    From a physical education TEKS standpoint, angler education reinforces the skills of gross motor development, fine motor development, proprioception, and spatial awareness. Casting a fishing pole helps students develop smooth transitions in a manipulative skill set as well as creating a movement sequence with a beginning, middle, and end. Students learn how to safely use and transport fishing equipment properly, which is a key skill in physical education. The technique used in casting out a fishing pole also translates to overhand throwing skills used in a variety of other sports. While students learn how to tie knots, they develop their fine motor skills as well as their ability to concentrate and focus on the task at hand. Students also identify how fishing allows them to be active and participate in an outdoor hobby. Walking to, around, and from ponds, lakes, bays, beaches, or rivers increases cardiovascular levels, which boosts health awareness as well. These cross-curricular activities also reinforce several essential TEKS for Math, Science, and History. In a society driven by technology, who can’t benefit from spending more time outside? 

        During “Take Me Fishing Hutsell” students arrive with their parents and other family members for a morning of aquatic adventure. Students enter Mary Jo Peckham Park in Katy, Texas, and register with volunteers from Hutsell. After registering, families are escorted to a safety station where Texas Game Wardens provide educational tips and safety procedures. At the safety station, they also enter for a door prize drawing. Students can win fishing poles, tackle boxes, and various coupons donated by local businesses and restaurants. 

    Students and families can borrow free fishing equipment to use during the morning, courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife, Fishing’s Future, Katy ISD, and Hutsell Elementary. After checking out fishing equipment, families can then take some bait to use. Hotdogs, chicken hearts, earthworms, and chicken livers are donated by local businesses so students can be able to fish for free. Texas Parks and Wildlife also signs a waiver which means that no participants need to purchase a license for the duration of TMFH. 

    Hutsell families will then surround the pond in Peckham Park, and enjoy the lifetime sport of fishing. Hutsell Elementary teachers, in orange polo shirts, offer assistance to students. In addition to fishing, families are also encouraged to visit different stations around the park. There is a camping/ice cream-making station where students learn camping essentials and how to make hand-made ice cream. This process also reinforces the scientific process of turning a liquid to a solid via friction. At the fish print station, students are allowed to make their own free t-shirts, based on the art of Gyotaku, an ancient Japanese art form. 

    For those who aren’t comfortable casting a fishing pole with a hook, we have a station where plastic fish called “Backyard Bass” are used to practice catching using a rubber plug. Texas Parks and Wildlife provides them “Take Me Fishing” Aquatic Education trailer that is set up for families to view fresh water and saltwater fish species, water conservation, fishing safety, and tackle box assembly. If and when a student catches a fish, we have a fish tank used to hold the fish that are caught.  Everyone can then view the catches of the day! Finally, we offer a nature exhibit station, with some snakes, lizards, and turtles for our students to learn about. 

    Students can also be a Fishin’ Buddy and help others if they choose to. Also, there is a fun tournament to see which students can catch the longest, heaviest, and first fish of the day and the winning students will receive a special prize. We have had the honor of hosting many guests during Take Me Fishing, including but not limited to Mr. Alton Frailey, former Katy ISD superintendent, Former Mayors of Katy Don Elder and Fabol Hughes, Current Mayor of Katy Chuck Brawner, Katy ISD school board members, Texas Parks and Wildlife Staff, Boy Scout leaders, members from Fishing’s Future and we have even had employees from US Fish and Wildlife come to our event to support us.

    Since the inception of “Take Me Fishing Hutsell” we have always encouraged the virtue of stewardship. At the end of each event we host, we ask students to gather up trash they see around Peckham Park and we collect all the trash and then remove it from the grounds. We also recycle used monofilament lines. Did you know it takes over 600 years to decompose? We believe in leaving the park cleaner than when we found it and it’s our goal to pass that ideal on to the students at Hutsell. Formed in the 2016/2017 school year, the Green Hornets meet three to four times a year at Peckham Park to learn about conservation and then take part in cleaning up Peckham Park. The Green Hornets is a group of students from Hutsell Elementary that desire to go above and beyond by assisting in taking care of Peckham Park.