Thanks to a partnership with Castleton University, volunteers for the state’s Let’s Go Fishing program can now earn graduate-level credit for their work in teaching people how to fish.

Ali Thomas, education manager for Vt. Department of Fish & Wildlife, said Tuesday the Let’s Go Fishing program has been around since 1996, and during that period has trained about 800 volunteer fishing instructors. Currently, 200 are active, with about 50 comprising the “core group.”

Thomas said the program was created to spread knowledge about fishing, fish species and their habitats. Teachers have been especially drawn to the program, she said, as it gives them tools they can use in many types of classes, from science to gym.

She said now, through Castleton University, becoming a Let’s Go Fishing instructor can net a person one graduate-level credit. Thomas said teachers are required to keep up with their training and have to take courses periodically. Since many were using this program anyway, it was a good way to help them out.

Thomas said the idea came from Tara Lidstone, assistant director at Castleton University.

Thomas said Let’s Go Fishing instructors often use their skills through youth groups like 4-H clubs or Scouts. Some just like to hold fishing clinics. She said the classes appeal to many types of people and learning styles.

According to a release, Fish & Wildlife will host an instructor clinic in Essex Junction on April 13 at the Essex District Office, 111 West St. The class runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Pre-registration is required as is the passing of a background check. Participants must be at least 18. People can apply through April 10 at the department’s website, The class is free, but those who want credit through Castleton University must pay $125. Curriculum materials and lunch are provided.

Ric Reardon, director of education at Castleton University, said the school often looks for ways to offer things like this by partnering with groups that, while not accredited institutions, have an educational mission.

“Becoming a Let’s Go Fishing instructor will give you the opportunity to introduce Vermonters both young and old to the joys of fishing, while teaching them all they need to know to enjoy a day on the water,” said Corey Hart, Fish & Wildlife education specialist, in a release.


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And that is how you devalue a college degree.

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