Pictured from left to right, front row--Conner Degnan and Mattea Hilliker, essay contest grand prize winners; second row— Amanda Degnan, Conner’s mother, and Amber Hilliker, Mattea’s mother; third row—George Borrello, Chautauqua County Executive, and Dan Heitzenrater, Executive Assistant; and back row—Mike Sperry, Sports Fishery Advisory Board Member.
MAYVILLE, N.Y.: -- Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello recently traveled to Chautauqua Marina to go fishing with the two grand prize winners of the Chautauqua County Sports Fishery Advisory Board’s 26th Annual Fishing Essay Contest.
Conner Degnan, a sixth grader from Washington Middle School, and Mattea Hilliker, a third grader from Sinclairville Elementary School, won the opportunity to go fishing with Borrello after their essays were selected out of 320 well-written and thoughtful entries from 12 different schools across Chautauqua County.
Joining the winners and Borrello on the trip were Amanda Degnan, Conner’s mother; Amber Hilliker, Mattea’s mother; Dan Heitzenrater, Executive Assistant; and Mike Sperry, Chautauqua County Sports Fishery Advisory Board Member and Owner of Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. Sperry volunteered his professional guide services for the day’s two-hour excursion and Chautauqua Marina contributed to the event by providing a boat for the trip.
The Fishing Essay Contest gave students across Chautauqua County in third through sixth grades the opportunity to recall their fun fishing memories as they wrote about their favorite fishing spot in Chautauqua County and who they would like to go fishing with.
In May and June, the County Executive joined Sports Fishery Advisory Board Chairman Zen Olow; sports fishery advisory board members; and county legislators at their local school districts to deliver certificates to students who participated.
“With five lakes, a river and countless creeks and streams, our county is an amazing place to fish,” said Borrello. “Keeping kids active in outdoor recreation like fishing is an important part of maintaining our unique quality of life in Chautauqua County. I truly appreciate everything that the dedicated members of the advisory board do to work with our youth and keep them engaged.”
This year the board selected 52 winners who all received fishing poles and certificates. From this group of winners, the County Executive then selected the two grand prize winners to go on a fishing trip.
The other 50 winners for this year’s contest were for third grade: Anna Burlingame, Gabrielle Cunningham, Conner Main, Jade Marcincowski, Maxwell McClure, Angelica Mullen, James Mullen, Aaden Ring, and Ethan Testa, Sinclairville Elementary School.
For fourth grade: Danny Hoth, Dunkirk School #5; and Abby Bullaro, Andrew Hammond, Alisha Karlson, Kiersten Olson, Layla Salzman, Addalyn Sturges, and Brooke Warner, Panama Central School.
For fifth grade: Taylor Caron, Brocton Central School; Andrew Cowan, Ashton Putney, Lennon Schibetta, Tyler Sullivan, and Josh Thurber, Fredonia Middle School; Lillian Borowski, Patrick Holmberg, Augustine Krenzer, and Hannah Sorenson, H.C. Fenner Elementary School; Madeline Kroll, Northern Chautauqua Catholic School; Mason Miceli, Pine Valley Elementary School; and Addison Becker, Hayden Felt, Braden Hagberg, Taytum Jimerson, Cody Kent, Avalynne Russell, and Taylor Yost, Robert H. Jackson Elementary School; and Mason Baum, Kameron Cady, Mark Drummond, Kaden Emery, Alina Franklin, Annissa Morris, Kyle Pierce, Sophia Smith, and Ayden Tayler, Westfield Academy & Central School.
For sixth grade: Maecyn Brown, Peter Conley, and Brook Shutters, Southwestern Central School; and Oreana Fisher and Ethan Pumford, Washington Middle School.
The Chautauqua County Sports Fishery Advisory Board has developed the essay contest to promote awareness of Chautauqua County’s ecology, the factors that influence it, and the role each student plays in maintaining its quality in the future.
This year’s contest was sponsored by the County Executive’s Office, County Legislature, and a majority of the prizes were funded through the support of Cabela’s and the Lake Erie Management Commission.
The contest has been held annually since 1992, with no essay being held in 2000.