BOB MAINDELLE: Looking for a career at Belton ISD | outdoor sports
A few weeks ago I received an email from Alicia Ortner, school counselor at Tarver Elementary School in Belton, just north of West Adams Avenue.
Ortner was planning a “career day” on the last day of classes before spring break and catered to people representing a number of career paths, and a professional fishing guide was one of them.
My wife and I normally set aside Fridays for what we call “marriage keeping day” – a day when neither of us commits to the others except by mutual consent, and simply spends the day with one another. the other. Sometimes we go on day trips, other days we go out for a bite to eat or do more mundane things like weeding the yard or preparing taxes.
When that request came, I referred it to my wife, and given her training in pediatric nursing and her current role as director of our church’s nursery, I wasn’t surprised when she agreed that this child-focused event was something we could and should do together. So I said yes to Ortner, and Friday the event happened.
I know that fishing is a healthy hobby that always appealed to me as a child, and still does today. Being able to introduce kids to the sport, in part knowing that this outdoor tradition will continue for generations to come, struck me as helpful.
I have attended many school events involving elementary age children and this turned out to be the best organized of them all as the agenda was posted very early and followed at the letter, the six groups of fourth graders who visited my station were all on time and sufficiently supervised, and the overall course of the event was organized and positive.
Although we hoped to be able to meet the children assigned to us outside, Friday’s strong cold front, along with high winds, a low wind chill and falling temperatures, prevented this. Fear not, Ortner moved us inside the school gymnasium, where the smooth floor and open space allowed for throwing inside.
As each group arrived, I explained a bit about my career path and my dream of retiring early to become a fishing guide. I shared how during my time in the US military, in industry, and then in the ministry, I always did three things with my finances: I never spent more than I earned, I invested 10% of my income and gave at least 10% of my income to support the work of the Lord.
Following these simple steps helped me prepare to retire at 47 to start guiding full-time after doing it part-time for the previous 10 years.
After sharing this and a bit about my upbringing, I taught the kids how to cast a closed fishing rod and reel.
I then organized the kids into two equal sized groups per class and had half of them sink while the other half watched.
The children’s targets were an invention called the Backyard Bass, a plastic flatfish with a domed head into which a groove is molded. It is in this groove that a plastic practice plug hooks, allowing children to “catch” and then reel the fish onto the smooth gymnasium floor.
Of course, competition always spices things up a bit, so after allowing each group to practice a bit, we entered into a competition round. At the word ‘go’ the kids started casting to see who could hook and land a Backyard Bass the fastest, with the winner receiving a new rod and reel like the one each was using for the contest.
Each group of 14-22 children visited us for 20 minutes, so there was a lot to do in such a short time. After both groups practiced and competed, we presented the awards and then closed our sessions with a question and answer time.
So it was in a number of classrooms across campus, kids hearing and seeing bits of a day in the life of a doctor, a dentist, a soldier, a musician , a food bank organizer, a pastor, a firefighter and more.
At 52 years old, I have noticed that my ability to spend time with children has diminished over the years, but our time with the children at Tarver Elementary has passed quickly. We enjoyed every minute.
I encourage you to pursue one of the many volunteer opportunities offered by well-meaning organizations all around us…churches, schools, non-profit organizations, etc. Giving of yourself to invest in the lives of others is truly rewarding.