HOUSTON – Never fear Ellis County anglers, scholarship aid on the way — and Japan is providing it.

Along with helping young anglers learn more about fishing tackle and success on the water, the Osaka, Japan-based Shimano Cycling Company rolled out its varsity in December of 2016.

According to Steve Ferrara, vice president of Shimano Fishing, the program helps American high school and college anglers achieve success in higher education. Th company announced at a special reception for high school and college bass anglers during the March 25 weigh-in at the Bassmaster Classic in Houston that collegiate studies beginning in fall 2017 Shimano will award five $3,000 scholarships to select high school seniors planning to major in biology, fisheries, wildlife or natural resource field.

“Our scholarship program is one of the keystones to our entire Varsity program,” Shimano Youth Fishing Director Frank Hyla said. “With Shimano staff at all levels, we want to form a mentor relationship, and help these anglers pursue a college degree leading to a career creating better fisheries policy and management practices.”

Hyla, Shimano’s youth fishing coordinator, leads a program that includes a varsity purchase program — a monthly e-newsletter and other opportunities. Conservation education and a scholarship program will also be included.

In addition, the Shimano Experience Team will attend select high school and college tournaments.

Throughout the past 20 years, there has been a critical decline in professional natural resource managers who fish and hunt. Phil Morlock, Shimano's vice president for government affairs/advocacy, said that field the drive to appeal to high school and collegiate anglers with a pre-existing appreciation for the sport.

“The future of the fishing industry is based on sustainable use and proper management of our public lands and waters,” Morlock noted. “We hope our scholarship program helps recruit students who already enjoy fishing and understand the importance of conservation efforts through their involvement with B.A.S.S. to pursue a college degree in natural resource professions.”

A specially selected panel, including Shimano’s Morlock, B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland and Chris Horton with the Congressional Sportsman’s Foundation, determine the scholarship winners.

Application forms – with an annual May 15 deadline — are available to high school seniors in both the U.S. and Canada and can be found on the Shimano Varsity program website at http://varsity.shimano.com.