Bass Pro Shops Founder To Match Raised Funds for Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center Education Building

Larry Hodge, 903-676-2277,

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ATHENS, Texas-Bass Pro Shops founder John L. Morris is serious about the value of teaching young people principles of natural resource conservation by involving them in fishing.

Morris showed that commitment at a fundraiser for the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center held April 3 in Grapevine. He pledged to match dollar for dollar all monies raised during the next year (up to $650,000) for the construction of a new education building at TFFC. This amount equates to one-half of the money needed to complete the fundraising for the new education center.

"Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and in particular the staff of the Inland Fisheries Division have made Texas bass fishing among the best in the nation," explained Morris. "We must teach kids, as well as novice adults, how to enjoy all the outdoor activities the great outdoors has to offer."

Morris made his pledge and remarks at the second annual ’Schooling for Bass’ banquet, which was attended by around 600 guests as well as TPWD Executive Director Robert L. Cook and TPW Commission members J. Robert Brown and Philip Montgomery. Also in attendance was former TPW Commissioner Edwin L. Cox, Jr., for whom the TFFC is named. ’Schooling for Bass’ was organized by retired Dallas banker Richard Hart for the purpose of raising funds for TFFC.

"Provision of space for educational programming is critical to TFFC’s ability to continue to carry out its mission and expand its services to school-aged children," said Allen Forshage, TFFC director. "The new space will also allow expansion of professional development programming for school teachers, greatly multiplying TFFC’s impact on environmental education." Plans for the building also include a museum honoring Texas game wardens.

Hart’s ’Schooling for Bass’ group has raised about $300,000 for the building so far. "Mr. Morris’s gift represents an incredible level of support for Texas fishing through TFFC," Forshage said. "These matching funds will enable us to reach our $1.5 million goal by April 2005."

Persons wishing to donate money to the fund may contact Schooling for Bass at (214) 360-3911 or at Bank One, 8111 Preston Road, 2nd Floor, Dallas 75225.

The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is an innovative aquatic nature center and hatchery complex operated by TPWD located 75 miles southeast of Dallas on FM 2495 four miles east of Athens. Attractions include 300,000 gallons of aquariums, daily dive show and on-site fishing. Hours are Tues.-Sat. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday 1-4 p.m. Admission is as follows: adults $5.50, seniors $4.50, children ages 4-12, $3.50. For more information, visit the Web ( and click on Fishing or call the TFFC at (903) 676-2277.

Bass Pro Shops, a popular outdoors store, offers shoppers a large selection of quality outdoor gear, clothing and accessories from top industry names and at value prices. Beyond fishing and hunting, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World stores offers equipment for hiking, backpacking, wildlife viewing, camping, outdoor cooking and more. A gift and nature center also serves up a wide variety of outdoor-related items from lamps and dishes to bird feeders and furniture.