First fisheries class in Georgia taught in McIntosh County

Updated: Mar. 23, 2021 at 6:06 PM EDT
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MCINTOSH COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - A first in high school education for the state of Georgia taking place in McIntosh County.

McIntosh Academy students are out of the building and in their element on the water.

“Having this pathway enhances what they already know,” CTAE Director and Assistant Principal Dr. Valeria Richard said.

Dr. Richard is evaluating instructor Robert Todd. This pathway program was just approved by the state last April.

“It is a labor of love. I’m actually able to use my father’s vessel and the dock I grew up around to actually help teach these kids,” Todd said.

Robert’s family owns The Todd Shrimping Company, and he says many students just drop out of high school and start working in the commercial fishing industry.

“We wanted to tap into that because with anyone we try to get them that completion. Instead of dropping out and trying to get a GED later down the road,” Todd said. “And we have several that are very interested to take the program to stay in school right now this coming year.”

The Georgia Department of Education already has agriculture classes, so why not maritime classes on the water. Students and faculty believe it will get jobs in the county and hopefully go farther.

“When I first heard about it, I thought, ‘Okay, that’s something I want to do,’” MCA senior Jaliyha Jackson said.

Several of Jackson’s family members have made a living on the water.

“My grandma has a shrimping business that she sells, so I felt like okay, I need to do this to see what I can do better to help her and better myself with the shrimping industry,” Jackson said.

And it is not just shrimping employment. Todd teaches skills that could help students go into the Coast Guard for example.

Students have also made a field guide to fishing regulations in Georgia. Todd says it rivals the one made by the state and he thinks it readies his class beyond Blackbeard Creek.

“Or go into Environment Science or Oceanography. Hopefully, we have given them the knowledge that they need to get that started.”

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