Fishing: A Lesson Learned, a Hobby Gained

June 5, 2009 - Employees recently helped reel in students’ interest in fishing. When their hooks hit the water, the activity was less about the catch and more about the outdoor experience.

Twenty-one seventh and eighth graders from Pfeiffer-Burleigh went fishing with Employee volunteers at Dobbin’s Landing last Tuesday in Erie, Pa. The trip was one of six throughout May that the Employees and students took together as part of ERIE’s Adopt-a-School partnership.


Last week’s event had the advantage of reasonable temperatures but the wind was not in their favor. “They say when the wind’s from the west, fish bite the best,” said fisherman and Senior Programmer Analyst Bill Donahue. “When the wind’s from the east, fish bite the least. And today, with the wind from the east, the kids are experiencing this first hand.”

But eighth graders William Roberts and Ciza Innocent got lucky. They hooked a large-mouth bass and a rock bass, respectively, with the help of Donohue and other Employees like Bob Wieczorek, policy servicing specialist. The volunteers also helped the students unhook and release the fish back into the water.

“This was my first time volunteering for any Pfeiffer-Burleigh event,” said Wieczorek. “I really didn’t know what to expect going down, but the kids just wanted to have fun and fish. They were well behaved and appreciated the attention we showed them.”


During the past month, the children learned about different baits, such as night crawlers and minnows, how to cast a line and what to do if a fish bites. Twelve Erie-based Employees volunteered to help teach the children the new hobby.

“The students really had fun and we appreciate all the support that ERIE has shown,” said Pfeiffer-Burleigh Assistant Principal Jason Burgert, who orchestrated and received a state grant for the event. “We’re appreciative that the Employees took personal time to spend time with our students and are hoping to work fishing into next year’s reading and science curriculum.”

Social Studies teacher John Ronan said the activity was new for most of the kids. “Some of the kids had been fishing once or twice before but forgot a few things. What’s nice is now they’ll be ready for the summer and will be able to fish on their own.”

And sinker

“There’s a lot more I’d like to show them,” said Wieczorek, “but it was nice to just be with the children and spend some time with them.”

Jean Walsh, commercial underwriting assistant, also enjoyed her time volunteering. “It was such a nice day and the children were so nice and appreciative,” she said. “I don't know how to fish well, but I know they just appreciated talking with someone and sharing the experience. Only one kid caught a fish that day, but they all seemed to totally enjoy themselves.”

Bonnie Daughenbaugh, ERIE’s partnership chairperson and senior actuarial tech assistant was appreciative of the support that ERIE volunteers gave to this event. “It was great that both ERIE Employees and Pfeiffer-Burleigh students were able to get out of the classroom or the office and enjoy the experience together,” she said.