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RALEIGH, N.C. (Sept. 22) - It was an occasion befitting a man who had dedicated his life to fishing and teaching children how to fish. On Sunday, the John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center was officially dedicated amid hundreds of children attending the annual Dave Varnedoe Greenwing Fishing Adventure in Fayetteville.

The education center, located off Lake Rim Road, was dedicated in honor of former N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Chairman John E. Pechmann, who died unexpectedly on July 15.

Family, friends, Commission personnel and fellow Commissioners spoke about Pechmann's many accomplishments as a 13-year member of the Commission and a devoted supporter of fisheries management, conservation and education.

"Pechmann was an avid angler with a dream to have a regional facility whose mission is to teach children how to fish and to appreciate North Carolina's natural resources," said Robert Curry, chief of the Commission's Division of Inland Fisheries. "Our goal is to fulfill his dream, to make it come true."

Through Pechmann's efforts to bring more fishing opportunities to Fayetteville residents, the Cumberland County chapter of Ducks Unlimited has been holding its annual Greenwing event, the largest in the state, at the Raeford Road location for the past 14 years.

At Sunday's event, more than 525 children and their families lined up side by side to cast their lines into six ponds teeming with bream, hybrid striped bass and channel catfish. To help everyone - even beginner anglers - have a good time and a better chance at landing an impressive fish, Commission personnel stocked more than 1,100 catchable-sized channel catfish in the week before the event.

This was the first year that Pechmann had not addressed the attendees before the fishing began, said Lee Warren, state chairman of Ducks Unlimited and Pechmann's close friend.

"John would be extremely proud of us today," Warren said. "Because of John, this is our 14th year holding this event at the Lake Rim facility with over 6,000 children throughout the years experiencing the enjoyment of fishing and the educational instruction provided by the Inland Fisheries and Enforcement divisions of the Commission."

Next year, attendees will enjoy a new 4,800-sq.ft., state-of-the-art fishing facility, featuring a classroom and exhibit hall, a universally accessible fishing structure and an educational pavilion.

"It will be the only facility of its type in North Carolina where kids and their families can come to learn more about fishing and aquatic resources in a fun, hands-on environment," said Kristopher Smith, center director. "Getting kids involved and actually doing things, such as casting, knot tying and, of course, fishing, is the best way for them to learn and to stay interested."

The center will offer a variety of aquatic programs designed to teach first-time and experienced anglers about North Carolina's aquatic resources. Classes will include fundamental fishing skills, such as casting and selecting the right equipment, as well as advanced topics such as fly-tying and fly-fishing.

Greenwing, a youth program started by Ducks Unlimited, educates aspiring outdoors enthusiasts 17 and younger about wildlife and wetland conservation. For more information on the Ducks Unlimited Greenwing program, visit the Web site at www.ducks.org.

To find out more about fishing in public, inland waters in North Carolina, visit the Commission's Web site, www.ncwildlife.org.
 
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