February 24, 2024

200 county fifth graders participated in this year’s Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs event sponsored by the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District, Ohio State University Extension, Meigs County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies at the Kountry Resort Campground near Five Points. The event took place over four days with groups of up to 50 fifth graders daily learning about fishing while also receiving anti-drug abuse messages. Submitted photo.

County fifth-graders participate in Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs event

FIVE POINTS, Ohio – Fifth graders from across Meigs County got to spend an exciting day at the end of the school year learning about fishing – while also learning about the dangers of drugs.

The Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs event at the Kountry Resort Campground near Pomeroy and included 200 fifth graders from Eastern, Meigs and Southern elementary schools as well as Mid Valley Christian School. The campground hosted previous events in 2018 and 2019.

The Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District, Ohio State University Extension, and the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office including the school resource officers (and more than a few parent volunteers) collaborated during this four-day event.  The campground provided a small, easily accessible pond for students to experience actual fishing.

Meigs SWCD staff provided the fishing information with students learning how to cast a fishing line properly and safely, about caring for habitats, hunting, and fishing laws, and handling and identifying fish.  In afternoons, the students got to practice their skills by fishing.

“Many students in our county live near a stream, pond, public lake, or river,” said Meigs SWCD education coordinator Jessie Donohue.  “Learning the importance of aquatic stewardship is important for our rural area.”

Michelle Stumbo and Nancy Sydenstricker, educators with the Meigs County OSU Extension talked with the youth about some dos and don’ts of both over-the-counter and prescription medication, and also talked about other healthy alternatives to drugs. They then made positive word bracelets to remind the children that they are valued and cared for and that drugs are never an option.

“The kids have a lot of fun and make a lot of noise while making their positive word bracelets,” said Sydenstricker. “We use Generation Rx lessons to show them that some medications look like candy, but they should never take anything unless given to them by a trusted adult. We also play a good choices and bad choices game that helps them know the right answers when it comes to medications”

MCSO and resource officers interacted with students in a relaxed outdoor atmosphere offering a positive interaction with law enforcement and respect for the out-of-doors.

Meigs County is a rural area with serious drug and alcohol problems and the officers discussed making good choices and dealing with the many stresses of adolescence.  Resource officers had activities that offered ideas for making good choices, saying no to drugs, speaking up when they think something is wrong and being friendly to others. Students were encouraged to be “reel” leaders in their school, community, and county.

“Having a positive and successful fishing experience encourages students to continue using outdoor recreation to deal with everyday stresses of life,” said Meigs SWCD district administrator Jenny Ridenour.  Whitetail Unlimited Buffington Island Chapter provided each student with a rod and reel to take home.

“Students learned there are many resources available to them in our county,” Ridenour said. “Events like this provide students the tools not only to succeed at fishing but with contacts and stress-relief resources to help them succeed in life.”