Gators Go Fishing

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mary Thach
  • 155 ARW Public Affairs
Positive community relations can be established by giving one's time to people in the surrounding communities.

Members of the Nebraska Air National Guard's 155th Air Refueling Wing volunteered, May 20, to teach students enrolled in the Functional Community Reference program at Lincoln North Star High School how to fish.

For the past seven years, the FCR program at LNS has offered a unique opportunity for students to participate in Gators Gone Fishin', an annual event where students interact with guard members and other volunteers while fishing.

Shawnie Motschenbacher, a teacher in the FCR program at LNS, said she participates annually in the fishing event for special needs students. Every year, she watches parents, Air National Guard members, LNS staff, and Veterans of Foreign Wars from Lincoln volunteer their time and assistance to students who want to learn a new skill and have fun.

Motschenbacher said, it was a good opportunity for current and retired service members and students to work together teaching teenagers to fish.

Sally Moon, parent of a senior enrolled in the FCR program at LNS, volunteered to work at this year's event. This is the fourth year Sally and her daughter ventured out to fish with other students enrolled in the program.

"It is neat to see all the kids having a good time along with their teachers, parents, and the Guard," said Moon.

Moon said her daughter has been in special education programs since she was an infant, and Gators Gone Fishin' is the highlight of her year.

Moon's daughter learned about fishing by participating in the event for the past four years. She also learned the types of fish living in Nebraska during school in preparation for the big day.

Although the event was designed to show students how to fish, the volunteers learned from the teenagers as well.

This is the second year Staff Sgt. Douglas Carlson, 155th ARW staff accountant, volunteered for the event. He said the students and volunteers learned how to be in the moment and simply enjoy the afternoon.

"We learn just as much from them as they do from us," said Carlson.

The 155th ARW has volunteered to help special needs children for nearly a decade and plans to continue in future years.

Earl Motschenbacher, a former Air Force service member and member of VFW Post 3606 in Lincoln, volunteered along with several other veterans. He said it was exciting to see young service members get involved in the community and see the kids having fun.

The entire day revolved around learning for all who were present.

Motschenbacher said, "people have done a lot for the veterans lately. I think it is a way of giving something back to the kids here."