Fishing U Schools AHPS Students On Career Opportunities

Fishing U Schools AHPS Students On Career Opportunities
Posted on 10/31/2022
Alleghany and Covington High School students cheer during the videoing of a commercial lead-in for the Outdoor Channel’s Fishing University on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. Jack Ingram and Ben Ballou, who co-host the popular Outdoor Channel show, visited AHS to encourage AHS and CHS students to consider careers in the outdoors. (AHPS Photo)

LOW MOOR — The hosts of the Outdoor Channel’s Fishing University visited Alleghany High School on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, to encourage students to consider a career in the outdoors. A variety of interested Alleghany and Covington High School students were present in the audience.

Hosts Charlie Ingram and Ben Ballou took a break from filming a show segment at Lake Moomaw to do the school presentation. 

With more than 40 years as a professional angler, Ingram is a fixture in bass tournaments across the United States.

“Life is a competition, and you need to go to school,” said Ingram in stressing the need for a high school education and lifelong learning. “Everything you learn here will take you a long way for the rest of your life.”

Ingram, who loves fishing and the outdoors, has been hosting the Fishing University TV show for 36 years. He said the key to finding success in life is choosing a career that you enjoy. 

“If you find something that you like to do, you will never go to work a day in your life,” he said.

A major goal of Friday’s visit by the show hosts was to educate the AHS and CHS students in attendance for the program at Hodnett Hall, about the importance of a career in the outdoors. Ingram and Ballou said they hoped to give the teens information about a career they hadn’t considered previously. 

Ballou grew up on a cattle farm and started his working career as an insurance agent.

“I absolutely hated it,” he said, reflecting that he personally needed more time outdoors.

Ballou now fishes Bassmaster Southern Opens with the end goal of qualifying for the Bassmaster Elite Series. He became the co-host of Fishing University earlier this year, joining Ingram in traveling across the country to film segments of the popular show.

“Being successful is not super complicated. You have to make yourself better at whatever your passion is every day,” Ballou said. 

He challenged the students to set a goal of getting 1 percent better every day when it comes to something they enjoy doing.

“That is the key to success. Find something you enjoy doing. You don’t have to be sitting behind a desk to be successful,” he said.

Ingram and Ballou were joined at AHS by Chad Williams of the Alleghany County Department of Parks and Recreation, Jake Lewis of the U.S. Forest Service, Adam Bresnehan, park manager for Douthat State Park, and Byron Childers, director of sales for Missile Baits in Salem.

Williams, an AHS graduate, attended Dabney S. Lancaster Community College and transferred to the University of Tennessee to study history. After a year, he switched to a course of studies connected to parks and recreation. He landed an internship with Roanoke County and was later hired to be Parks and Recreation director for Alleghany County.

One of his major projects in Alleghany County has been overseeing the construction of the 16-mile Jackson River Scenic Trail. The trail is viewed as a major tool for bringing outdoor tourism to the Alleghany Highlands.

“My job is a very enjoyable job,” said Williams in reflecting on his current role.

“There are opportunities out there for you to look at, and you can do things that you really enjoy,” he said.

Williams, Lewis, and Bresnehan said there are abundant career opportunities available in outdoor recreation and agriculture that pay good wages. Students can also become involved in volunteer programs to weigh their career options, and both AHS and CHS students can connect with AHPS work-based learning coordinator Seth Bradley for possible opportunities and guidance.  

Teresa Hammond, the executive director of the Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, helped coordinate the Fishing University visit to AHS.

“It sparked some good comments and questions about opportunities in outdoor recreation, and hopefully, got some of the students interested in doing some volunteer work,” Hammond said.  

Students and staff were able to network with the outdoors professionals present and asked many thoughtful questions as part of a “Q and A” session.  

The Lake Moomaw segment will include footage of AHS and CHS students as they interacted with the Fishing University crew, and it will air sometime in the spring of 2023.

The students joined Ballou in videoing a breakaway segment for a commercial, shouting, “Go Alleghany!” in a tribute to the new Alleghany Highlands Public Schools division.   

Fishing University will soon be added to the CBS Sports Channel.

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