DECATUR, Ala. — The television show “Fishing University” will feature two Garrett County teens, Jett Miller and Derek Kleppinger, as they fish for college scholarships in the “Make ME a Star” competition finals.
The team of two made it to the finals, beating out more than 500 other teams of two across the country after making the most social media posts about their fishing adventures.
The team of Miller and Kleppinger will fish against a two-student team from Kentucky, and have the opportunity to win four-year tuition scholarships from Bethel University, as well as a $10,000 cash scholarship for food and books if they finish in first place, or a two-year tuition scholarship if they finish in second place.
Kleppinger and Miller are both sophomores at Southern Garrett High School.
Kleppinger’s earliest memories of fishing were around age 5 with his dad at a family pond, as well as at Broad Ford Lake.
“My dad and grandfather both fish, as well as my sister, Rachel, and grandmother,” Kleppinger said. “I am fairly new to our high school team, but Jett and I won the second competition we were in, so I am ‘hooked,’ so to speak. And, Joe McClosky, who attended Southern Garrett, won this same competition in 2016 and is now a senior at Bethel University, where he has excelled in his fishing career, as well as about to graduate from college.
“I have enjoyed this experience and really appreciate our coaches who are so supportive,” continued Kleppinger. “My other hobbies beside fishing are learning and playing the guitar, biking, video games and recreational boating. My favorite subjects in school are science and history. I like science because it makes you think and question things, and history because I enjoy learning about the past.”
Kleppinger has worked at Patterson Boat Co. and as a dock attendant to help support his fishing hobby — buying his rods, reels and other fishing gear.
“I am so thankful and appreciative to my parents, Michael and Theresa Kleppinger, for allowing me to participate in fishing,” he said. “I am very excited over this opportunity, but a bit nervous too as I think about all the millions of people that will watch this show, and what’s on the line — fishing at the collegiate level, which would be a dream come true! Although I plan to major in engineering, fishing will always be a huge part of my life.”
His teammate, Miller, also started angling at an early age.
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