ATHENS – The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) is excited to announce the second annual “Veterans Day at the TFFC” event to honor and support veterans. The event is scheduled for Nov. 12 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. with free admission for veterans and their families.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Fisheries Technician and former Marine Nicholas Griffin organized the event and launched this tradition in 2021 to connect with veterans and give them a way to enjoy the outdoors.
“The mission of the event is simple- get veterans outdoors,” said Griffin. “It can be tough for veterans transitioning back into civilian life. For me personally, no matter what was going on in my life and all the hustle and bustle we encounter, being outdoors always put me at ease. There are some great organizations out there that are dedicated to helping make this happen and we have invited them out to the TFFC to get as many veterans in the outdoors as we can.”
The Fallen Outdoors, Cover 6 Outdoors, Headwaters for Heroes, Project Healing Waters and Patriot Anglers are just some of the organizations with that same mission. This event will allow visitors to find out more information about these organizations, what they have to offer, and donate to support their efforts to get more veterans outdoors.
Additionally, there will be guided fishing trip giveaways for veterans and Pond King Inc. will conduct its “Patriots 4 Patriots” drawing for its Patriot Two-Man Pontoon Boat. Visitors will also have a chance to win other prizes, and merchandise will be available for purchase to further benefit veterans. Attendees can also take advantage of fly casting and fly-tying instruction, which is a new addition to this year’s event.
Anglers and their families will have the opportunity to visit with top professional anglers from Major League Fishing. Anglers Gary Klein, Alton Jones, Sr., Jeff Sprague and Kelly Jordon will be on site signing autographs and visiting with attendees.
“It’s so special to me to get to spend time with our nation’s veterans and their families on Veteran’s Day,” said Jordon. “I get to fish for a living thanks to their service and it’s my privilege to get to spend time with them and their families and talk about fishing at the Fisheries Center.”
Located in Athens, TFFC includes a working fish hatchery, a visitor center with 300,000 gallons of aquaria focusing on underwater wildlife in the state, recreational fishing ponds and fisheries science exhibits. It is home to the Toyota ShareLunker program, which invites anglers to donate 13-pound-plus-sized largemouth bass for research and breeding purposes. TFFC also houses the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, which honors individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to freshwater fishing in Texas.
The Texas Game Warden Museum, where visitors can learn about the history of the organization and current TPWD game warden operations, is also located at the TFFC. In addition, TFFC facilitates the annual Fish Art Contest in Texas, which is part of a conservation education program designed to spark the imaginations of students while providing valuable lessons about fish and the importance of conserving Texas’ aquatic resources.
“We are grateful for the service of our nation’s veterans and thankful that we, along with Mr. Klein, Mr. Jordon, Mr. Sprague, and Mr. Jones, Sr. are able to spend the day sharing all that TFFC has to offer with them and their families,” said Tom Lang, TFFC Director.
The center currently operates from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 1-4 p.m. on Sunday.