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Fly Fishing at Penn State, Past and Present

The year was 1932 when a young Penn State student named George Harvey finagled a ride to Spring Creek with Ralph Watts, Dean of the School of Agriculture. The Dean fished with bait, and George Harvey fished with a pair of Harvey Special Wet Flies. During the next few hours, Dean Watts caught two brook trout, and George Harvey caught twenty-five trout with five trout measuring eighteen inches or better in length. A lasting relationship was formed, and the seeds of the first college fly fishing course were planted.

The next year George Harvey was persuaded by Dean Watts to organize a fly fishing and fly tying class. With the recommendation of the Dean, George Harvey moved on, temporarily, to the Mont Alto Forestry School where he also taught fly tying and casting.

In 1942 George Harvey returned to his alma mater and offered his unofficial fly fishing class to Penn State students and faculty. The angling class, “Principles and Techniques of Fly Fishing and Fly Tying”, was officially recognized as a two credit hour course at Penn State University and taught by Associate Professor George Harvey in the College of Physical Education and Recreation. George Harvey continued to teach the very popular course until his retirement in 1972. During his tenure at Penn State University, over eight thousand students were introduced to fly fishing in his official class.

George and friendsWhen George Harvey retired, the fly fishing course was turned over to the very capable Joe Humphreys. George Harvey had met the ten year old Joe Humphreys on Spring Creek and offered friendly fly fishing advice. When Joe Humphreys attended Penn State, he took the fly fishing course and assisted George Harvey. Joe Humphreys was a natural selection to succeed George Harvey at Penn State in 1970, and Joe Humphreys taught the fly fishing course, P.E. 109, until his retirement from Penn State in 1989.

Vance McCullough took over the stewardship of the fly fishing course at Penn State until he stepped down in 1997. Mark Belden has taught the class, now know as Kinesiolgy 004 for the last eleven years.

Since the original class was started by George Harvey at Penn State, tens of thousands of students have taken the course, which is the first course of its kind at any university in the United States.

The fly fishing tradition continues with an additional initiative created by Jesse Arnelle, former president and member of the Penn State Board of Trustees. Joe instructed Jesse Arnelle during his tenure on Board of Trustees. Joe and Jesse were P.S.U. students at the same time; Jesse was a football and basketball player, and Joe a wrestler and boxer. Later Jesse Arnelle created a project called The Arnelle Fly Fishing Initiative, a program to expose Penn State students from inner city backgrounds to outdoors and to fly fishing.

The Penn State fly fishing tradition, first nurtured by Dean Watts and George Harvey, and shepherded through the decades by Joe Humphreys, Vance McCullough and Mark Belden, needs your financial support. Please contribute - any amount is sincerely appreciated - by contacting Robert Crusciel, Director of Major Gifts, the College of Health and Human Development, The Pennsylvania State University, 201 Henderson Building, University Park, PA 16802 (RJC32@psu.edu). Any checks should be made payable to The Joe Humphreys’ Student Angling Fund, Pennsylvania State University, ACHAG Fund. Donations can also be made through the web page of Penn State University at http://www.giveto.psu.edu. Again, please designate all contributions to The Joe Humphreys Student Angling Fund, ACHAG Fund.

Thousands of Penn State students have had the privilege of being instructed by some of the best fly fishing anglers in the United States. Please help Penn State continue this marvelous tradition for years to come.

Jesse Arnelle Fly Fishing Initiative

Former Penn State Trustee and former Penn State basketball and football star, Jesse Arnelle, had the opportunity to join Joe Humphreys on a fly fishing trip. Jessie Arnelle recognized that fly fishing might introduce Penn State student with multi-cultural backgrounds to unique environmental, social and sporting opportunities. Mark Belden, the current fly fishing instructor at the University Park Campus, took Jessie Arnelle’s concept and brought it to light.

Mark Belden developed a diversified program, which teamed experienced, fly fishing students, faculty members and administration officials with students from the multi-cultural backgrounds. The students, operating outside their normal comfort zone, were introduced to fly fishing in the classroom where the students learned to cast, tie knots, tie flies and where the students developed a basic understanding of how trout react in the environment. Students put all of the classroom knowledge to good use when the class made a field trip to Spruce Creek at the Wayne Harpster property.

The Arnelle Fly Fishing Initiative, started in 2002, has been and is now offered to students every semester. In the summer of 2004 a similar program was first offered to high school students at the University Park Campus. Several of the high school students have enrolled at Penn State and have subsequently participated in the university fly fishing program.

The fly fishing program, initiated by George Harvey, and fostered by Joe Humphreys and Mark Belden, offers the Penn State and high school students an opportunity to interact with the environment and nature and has enhanced the campus with a diverse student body. Everyone associated with the Arnelle Fly Fishing Initiative truly benefits from this unique program.

Your financial support, in any amount, to the Jesse Arnelle Fly Fishing Initiative would be greatly appreciated. Please contact Robert Crusciel, Director of Major Gifts, at the College of Health and Human Development, The Pennsylvania State University, 201 Henderson Building, University Park, PA 16802 (RJC32@psu.edu). Any checks should be made payable to The Joe Humphreys’ Student Angling Fund, Pennsylvania State University, ACHAG Fund. Donations can also be made through the web page of Penn State University at http://www.giveto.psu.edu. Again, please designate all contributions to The Joe Humphreys Student Angling Fund, ACHAG Fund.