Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

June 19, 2013

Eye on the Prize

By Kevin Reese
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — Dave “Coach” Robertstad, an avid birdwatcher and outdoor enthusiast, could have kept his teaching focused on standard P.E. activities like kickball, dodgeball or basketball but he answered a higher calling. Instead, Coach Robertstad took it upon himself to create the OAK program alongside his standard P.E. curriculum as a means of teaching his students critical outdoor skills. This school year, OAK kids learned about bird watching, map reading, orienteering, geocaching, outdoor photography, how to use binoculars properly, and other important outdoor skills. They even had an indoor bass tournament with real bait-casting equipment, compliments of pro bass angler, Sam McCollum, who also judged and taught fishing skills to kids individually throughout the tourney!

More than just learning, Coach Robertstad’s students also know what it means to earn; the prizes don’t come easily. To earn OAK points, students must complete outdoor tasks and answer questions throughout the school year; it’s hard work! So, what’s the reward? Participants can use their OAK points to “buy” cool outdoor prizes!

Alpen Optics partnered with Bowie’s OAK program earlier this year and ensured students have access to phenomenal optics throughout OAK events. MyTopo partnered to ensure Coach Robertstad and his kids have access to much needed maps and software for orienteering and other navigating activities. Pro angler Sam McCollum partnered with OAK to teach fishing fundamentals and ensure students have quality bait-cast fishing equipment.

Other great organizations like Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Camp Chef, Ducks Unlimited, Zippo Outdoor, Yamaha, Cabela’s, Cornell Ornithology, Navarro College, Cotton Patch, Applebee’s and others also contributed prizes like fishing poles, Frisbees, kites, duck calls, zombie playing cards, lip balm, shirts, hats, gift certificates and other ultra-cool stuff that keep kids heading outdoors. Of course, Coach Robertstad needs more help with prize donations from our outdoor friends. Are you game?

Through his OAK program, Coach Robertstad is committed to teaching Bowie Elementary School students outdoor lessons that not only enrich their lives but at some point, may save them.

While we love what he’s doing we would love to see OAK expand to a district, then region, then state, then nationwide program. When I mention it he smiles, albeit uneasily. “We’d need more people and more support but I think it’s really important work,’’ he said.

As a side note, yet no less important, McCollum also created and heads up Corsicana’s Hooked On Fishing Tournament, an annual youth fishing event held at IOOF Park.

Hooked On Fishing lures hundreds of young anglers and their parents or guardians out for a morning of bank fishing with lunker trophies and jaw dropping prize packages on the line. Music, concessions, vendors and sponsors line the lakeshore rooting kids on as they cast and reel, cast and reel.

If you would like to partner with OAK or donate prizes, email Coach Robertstad at drobertstad@cisd.org. Sam McCollum can also be reached through Coach Robertstad for Hooked On Fishing information.

Learn more about Alpen Optics and Alpen’s Lifetime No-Fault Warranty at www.AlpenOptics.com.

Learn more about MyTopo’s line of top quality navigation products at www.MyTopo.com.