After a number of extremely successful years teaching local high school kids the art of fly fishing, the protection and conservation of the natural environment and getting them engaged with the outdoors – even landing a group of students on the National Youth Fly Fishing Team – the Carihi Fly Fishing program is no more.
But before anyone gets too upset, it should be said that the reason it’s done is because it’s expanding and rebranding, opening itself up to students at both high schools and becoming “72 Fly Fishing.”
Program instructor Nic Pisterzi says when he saw how many Carihi students wanted to enrol this year – enough for probably three or four entire cohorts – he knew there would likely be some interest from the school down the road, as well. In fact, he’d already been getting questions from some of the students over there.
“The inception of bringing it district wide came from students at Timberline emailing and messaging the program’s Facebook and Instagram accounts,” Pisterzi says. “I didn’t give much thought to expanding it to another school until I started receiving those. I’ve posted a lot of what we do online for our sponsors, mainly for them to see how their money supports us, as well as for parents and interested community members. But after many messages from Timberline kids, it got me thinking, why not try?”
So he took the idea to district superintendent Jeremy Morrow and Timberline principal Laird Ruehlen, and they all agreed to give it a shot. They’d seen the value of the program over the past few years and were more than happy to see it include the other school.
But because the program is a blend of fly-fishing, environmental conservation and English Language Arts open for students from Grades 9 to 12, it’s a bit of a logistical challenge now that it’s open to both schools. Students can select to take either a whole morning or whole afternoon with Pisterzi, so he’ll be adding some mileage on his vehicle starting this fall.
“Carihi has an earlier start time, so I’ll start my day there and do the mornings, and then jet over to Timberline during my lunch and teach the afternoon there,” Pisterzi says.
The specifics of how the program will run – whether Timberline students can take the morning class over at Carihi and vice versa – as well as transportation issues, will be based on enrolment numbers Pisterzi says, but he’s confident it’ll all get ironed out before September.
“It’ll be based on numbers and student choice,” Pisterzi says. “I guess, technically, if no one signed up it wouldn’t run at all. Transportation wise, School District 72 is really accommodating and tries very hard. Guys like Steve Hrybko and Karl Bro have worked hard to ensure kids get outdoors and I really appreciate it. The transportation department has gone above and beyond for these kids, and Campbell River should know that.”
He also says the program wouldn’t be in the shape it’s in and looking to expand if it weren’t for the people who have stepped up to help from around the community.
“We’ve had a great deal of support from a variety of businesses and locals in the community,” he says. “It’d be pretty tough to teach fly fishing without the gear – rods, reels, boots, waders, life jackets, fly line, flies, etc. are just some of the items that are needed each time we go out. Balancing gear purchases with ongoing maintenance costs can be tricky sometimes, but it’s worked itself out thanks to our supporters over the years.”
For more information on the program, contact Pisterzi by email at Nicolas.Pisterzi@sd72.bc.ca. Timberline students should go talk to Mr. Berg in the counselling department if they’re interested in registering.
“These kids are the next generation of water and fish keepers, conservation officers, fisheries officers, educators, and volunteers,” Pisterzi says. “Educating our youth today is critical to the sustainability of our future waterways and the fish resource we so love. Fly fishing is just one avenue for them to connect with the outdoors, and it really is a beautiful thing.”