‘Fishing University’ inspires Valley students to reach for dreams while filming episode

Published 9:00 am Friday, February 10, 2023

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Valley High School’s fishing enthusiasts got the chance to hear from professional fishermen as part of an upcoming episode of an Outdoor Channel television show on Thursday. “Fishing University” Founder Charlie Ingram spoke to Valley High students about career options during a filmed seminar. 

Ingram, his co-host Ben Ballou and daughter Anna Ballou traveled to Valley this weekend to film an episode of the show on West Point Lake. The hosts travel around to fish in different lakes all over the country. While there, they organize an expo at local high schools and colleges to give students advice about careers. 

For students interested in other careers outdoors, Ingram invited several officers from park rangers to forestry officers. AFC Chambers County Forestry Specialist JimBo Robinson; Chambers County Game Warden John Davidson; Chambers County Forestry Officer Matthew Lowe; Park Rangers for US Army Corps of Engineers at West Point Lake Danielle Woody and Ben Williams described their jobs and what students would need to do to pursue their field.

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“Don’t let anything limit you,” Williams said.

The show, a “how-to” fishing program, has been running for 30 years. Around 10 years ago, Ingram said they began visiting local schools to give career advice to students. 

Ingram, from Centerville, Tennessee, spent his youth fishing — even when he was supposed to be in class. He told the Valley students that when he neared the end of high school, his principal told him that fishing would ruin his prospects. He went on to be a staple for national bass tournaments since 1997 and qualify for the Forest Wood Cup multiple times.

“Accomplishment skills will take you a long way in life,” Ingram said. 

According to Ingram, it may be easier to get fishing scholarships than basketball scholarships. He and Ballou encouraged students to work hard for the kind of career that suits them. Ballou said his dream was to be a professional fisherman.

“I tried to make myself one percent better every day,” Ballou said. 

As a part of the partnership, the Chamber of Commerce will also create a 90-second commercial that will run with the show. 

“This is a great opportunity for the students to have them here,” said GVAA Chamber of Commerce Director Carrie Wood.

Ingram reached out to Wood after coming across West Point Lake online. Wood reached out to Valley High Principal Montray Thompson, and he chose junior and senior students to attend. Around 250 students attended. 

“I wanted them to know that even if you don’t have a four-year degree, you can still have a prosperous career,” Thompson said. “Sometimes it’s better to hear that from those professionals in that particular field at the moment.”

The seminar will be included in an upcoming episode, which will also feature West Point Lake. Ingram and Ballou will be filming the episode in the coming days. The episode will air on Outdoor Channel, World Fishing Network and Fishing Sports.