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Student Spotlight: Jake Worthington

Jake Worthington, a senior in the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management program, is a devoted angler, a writer for Coastal Angler Fishing Magazine and this summer he became an advocate for the fishing industry.

Jake is the son of two NC State Alumni who raised him in Camden County, a small rural area in northeastern North Carolina with a population of just over 10,000.  He fell in love with the sport of fishing from the time he was three years old when his dad first took him surf fishing, he then went on to spend many of his summers on the Outer Banks, fishing from the surf, boats and the Avalon Pier.

Fishing is Jake’s passion and although he has spent years honing his skills under the wings of local captains, he knew he wanted to attend college to further his education so he can accomplish his lifetime goal of owning a recreational charter fishing business.

He began his college career at the College of the Albemarle, a community college in Elizabeth City which gave Jake the opportunity to transition from his small high school of 100 students and take basic required courses. Jake was interested in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management and discovered that NC State had a great program. His parents took him to meet PRTM Assistant Director of Undergraduate Programs Janell Moretz, and after that meeting he knew this was the school for him. When he transferred in his sophomore year he hit the ground running and knew right away it was the right decision because he felt his PRTM professors truly cared about him succeeding as student.

A Conversation with Jake

What has been your favorite class in PRTM?

My favorite class since I’ve been in PRTM has been Dr. Annette Moore’s Recreation Program class (PRT 358). Dr. Moore was always excited to teach her subject and help us apply our knowledge to our recreation project partners with whom we worked with throughout the semester. I feel like this real world exposure not only helped me learn how to successfully run recreation programs, but also gave me a desire to run similar programs.

Has there been a teacher that has meant a lot to you?

I’ve been lucky to have so many great professors who are knowledgeable, approachable, caring, and challenge you to be the best student you can be. It is truly hard for me to narrow it down to one professor, but since I had the pleasure of taking three of his courses, I would have to say Dr. Gene Brothers is up at the top. Dr. Brothers has a vast wealth of real world knowledge that he applies in the classroom. His objectives he has taught me are definitely into my realm of knowledge.

Tell us about your internship experience?

I interned for a small fishing lure company on the Outer Banks called Bowed Up Lures. In addition to production, sales, and delivery of our product I learned how challenging it is to run a small business in today’s business and regulatory environment. I was also very fortunate that part of my job was  completing on water research using the lures in real life fishing conditions where I would take prototypes and different colored lures on the ocean and see which one was attracting and catching the most fish. An added benefit was participating in fishing tournaments representing Bowed Up Lures.

Another project I participated in was a Cobia Tagging Project with NC State CMAST graduate student Riley Gallagher. I took Riley and his assistant out on the Oregon Inlet where we used our lure brand to catch Cobia so they could take measurements and fin samples for DNA then surgically implant an acoustic tag that will allow the fish to be tracked to develop data on their migration patterns. This valuable data will allow fishery management agencies to make informed decisions on regulation that will be using best available science practices.

How did you get involved with being an advocate for the fishing industry?

My final project during my internship was not what we had originally planned and changed when the NC House passed a fishery bill called “Let Them Spawn.” It was presented as a conservation matter, but the implications and the economic impact on ocean coastal towns was going to be dramatic. The bill was sponsored by western NC representatives and only passed with one coastal house legislator. The bill was destined to be heard in the NC Senate so I started an online petition that took off and had over 6,000 signatures in a matter of hours. My petition was read on the NC Senate floor by Senator Bob Steinburg who represents my home district. I also helped lobby for the bill’s defeat by talking to elected officials and pointing out what was wrong with the bill and how the economic impact would affect local ocean and resource based tourism industries. The bill was sent to committee in the NC Senate, and it essentially died there. My petition helped stop the bill, along with the countless hours of lobbying legislators by shining the light on the bad parts of the bill. My internship was the complete experience in business, politics, recreation and research and I learned a great deal from it.  I was also able to apply what I learned in the classroom and labs at NC State.

What type of job do you hope to get once you graduate?

When I graduate on May 9, 2020, I will get one day off and then report to my job as the First Mate on Marauder Sportfishing out of Wanchese Marina in Wanchese, NC. I am going to be working for one of the most experienced nearshore charter captains in the Outer Banks, Captain Troy Crane. I”ll learn the charter business from the bottom up and learn every aspect of the business so that I can one day start my own successful recreational charter fishing business. I also want to be highly active in the State and Federal fishing regulatory issues and hopefully one day get an appointment to either state or federal fishery committees so I can have a stake in the rule making process and represent our industry in fishery issues. I would also like to continue writing articles for Coastal Angler Fishing Magazine and hopefully one day get published in Saltwater Sportsman, Sportfishing, or Angler’s Journal magazines. Lastly, to scratch some fish off of my bucket list and hone my angling skills in different environments I’d like to travel to Florida, Costa Rica, Panama and other world fishing spots during the Outer Banks winter months.

What is your dream job?

My dream job is to own my own professional offshore sport fishing business based in the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center on the Outer Banks.  In this business,  I would be fishing alongside the finest offshore sport fishing operators–not only in our area, but in the world. This marina has a rich history and has been home to some of the most well-renowned innovators and pioneers in the sport fishing industry. Having my own 50’ Custom Carolina Sport fisher docked here, I will run charter trips throughout the year. On my trips, I will  target various fish species and get to meet people from all over the world who are drawn to the reputation of the location and its captains. This–without a doubt–would be my dream job!