Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Fort Carson Mountaineer

DPW assists special-needs students

Jessica Veneklausen, an eighth grade student at Janitell Junior High, displays the first catch of the day.

Jessica Veneklausen, an eighth grade student at Janitell Junior High, displays the first catch of the day.

Story and photos by Sgt. Alexis Ramos

Garrison Public Affairs

The old Chinese proverb by Lao Tzu, “Give a man a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed them for a lifetime” was followed when six special-need students from Janitell Junior High School got a chance to learn about fishing May 7 at Womack Reservoir here on Fort Carson. Four Department of Public Works wildlife employees and a Fort Carson Soldier helped teach the students how to hook a worm, how to cast and essentially, how to fish.

Two days earlier the reservoir was stocked with 500 fish, giving the students an opportunity to be successful in their escapade before anyone else.

The day started off with a short safety briefing from Roger Peyton, a Fort Carson wildlife biologist. Directly after the briefing students were paired up with DPW employees where they received instructions on how to hook a worm and then cast their fishing rod. After the lesson the fishing began and, despite the cold weather, the students’ excitement was evident on their faces once the fish were reeled in.

“The fish started off biting a little slow, but you could see right away that once we started catching fish they all got excited,” said Peyton. “As long as the kids are excited and having fun, that’s the whole point. Getting them out to enjoy things that maybe they don’t always get a chance to enjoy.”

Jessica Veneklausen, an 8th grader at Janitell and a Fort Carson Family member, seemed to be in the right spot. Of the six fish caught, three were hooked by her rod. The other students did not seem to mind, they all were happy for their peer and just excited to be outdoors.

“Even though they don’t catch a fish, they all have a ball,” said Bobby Day, Fort Carson wildlife surveyor. “I never realized it until we received feedback. It’s a big deal to them; they don’t get out that much.”

Giving the special-need students from Janitell Junior High the opportunity to be outside and enjoy the experience of fishing was the goal of the event. This is the fifth year special-need students have had the opportunity to come to Womack Reservoir and learn about fishing. Despite budget constraints that

will make classes a little bigger next year, the school plans to continue bringing special-need students to take part in the fishing encounter which also seemed to touch some of the DPW employees.

“No matter what your level of understanding is, being outdoors lets you get something out of the experience,” said Peyton. “I probably enjoyed it as much as they did.”

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