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A P L AC E TO G R O W. T H E WAY TO L I V E. GREENE COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA

2018

La Monarca The flavors of Michoacan, Mexico migrate to Snow Hill

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Contents 6

Tennis Culture

12

Melons and Bloomers

16

Greene Co. Public Library

24

La Monarca

30

Wooley Swamp Campground

36

Fishers of Kids Anglers Academy

THE COVER PHOTOGRAPH BY AMBER REVELS-STOCKS

Greene Living 2018 EDITION

A N G E L A H A R N E , P U B L I S H E R & E D I TO R B R E N DA M O N T Y, S TA F F W R I T E R A M B E R R E V E L S - S TO C K S , S TA F F W R I T E R D O N N A M A R I E W I L L I A M S , S TA F F W R I T E R TO M L I T T L E , A D V E R T I S I N G

La Monarca Ice Cream and Fruit Bar, 111 S.E. Second St., Snow Hill, makes mangoneadas (left) and milkshakes using ice cream made in the traditional Michoacan way.

B E C K Y W E T H E R I N G TO N , L AYO U T & D E S I G N

Greene Living© is published annually by The Standard Laconic newspaper. Contents are the property of this newspaper and may not be reproduced without consent of the publisher. To advertise in this publication, contact The Standard Laconic at (252) 747-3883.

2018 | G REENE L IVING | 5


By DONNA MARIE WILLIAMS

T

he words “tennis” and “Greene County” are synonymous, particularly in Snow Hill. Chosen as “Best Tennis Town of America” in 2010, having been the Southern U.S. Adult Tournament of the Year for two out of the past 10 years and containing the 2018 recipient of the Facility of the Year by the U.S. Tennis Association, it is easy to see why. The rise of tennis popularity in the county began in 1980 during a time when Snow Hill was a large baseball community. “When I arrived in Greene County, the only thing I knew about Greene County was baseball. That’s what it was known for,” said Donald Clark, a former Greene Central High School tennis coach and the former president of the Greene County Tennis Association. Soon, Greene County and Snow Hill would be known for tennis. “We’re known

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as the tennis capital down here,” said Kathy Williams, the president of the Greene County Tennis Association. The rise in tennis popularity began with high school athletics and some networking performed by a local enthusiast. “I don’t know how (tennis popularity occurred), but a lot of tennis families (helped),” said Bobby Taylor, the owner of Greene Ridge Racquet Club, located in Snow Hill. Taylor was bitten by the tennis bug and began to attend tournaments in various locations across the state. He was able to recruit other players to attend tournaments with him and the bug began to slowly spread. While attending those tournaments, Greene County tennis players helped spread the word about the county just by being asked where they were from. Eventually, Clark joined Taylor and the two began hosting tournaments in the area. Taylor also began to offer tournaments using the high school’s courts. The first tournament he hosted was the Snow Hill Classic, sponsored by Coca-Cola. “We had 50 to 60 people in the first couple of tournaments. All proceeds went to the athletic department, and


Tennis Culture

later it was earmarked for tennis,” Taylor said, adding the funds raised helped to resurface the courts, acquire lights, nets and benches. “Donald Clark and I got together and ran tennis tournaments. The rest is history.” Adding to the rise of popularity of tennis was the expansion of the courts at Greene Central High School. Originally, Greene Central only had four. “The courts were 25 years old, and grass was growing up in between cracks,” Clark said. Parents of Greene Central High School approached the Greene County Board of Education to see if they could improve the tennis courts. However, it was a suggestion made by the school board in November 1997 to form the Greene County Tennis Association that changed the fate of tennis in Greene County. Within a year’s time, the Greene County Tennis Association had raised enough funds to resurface the four courts. The association did not stop there. Soon, the organization had raised enough funds to expand the number of tennis courts from four to 12. “Twelve courts is largely unheard of in high school tennis in North Carolina,” said Tim Medlin, a Greene Central tennis coach. The additional playing courts offered Greene County an advantage over other area high schools in the region. “All high schools started coming to Greene County because we had the largest hard clay court tennis facility east of I-95,” Taylor said, adding most facilities only consisted of six to nine

tennis courts. With the court expansion, came the expansion of tennis programs. The association began to host U.S. Tennis Association events in the area. More players from out of town were drawn to the area. Junior U.S. Tennis Association tournaments were also offered by the Greene County Tennis Association and were held for children, age 18 and under. The tournament allows students to compete with other students around the same age and helps them advance their skills. The Greene County Tennis Association also helps assist in the early development of tennis enthusiasm and skill by offering free clinics to help children and adults hone their tennis skills. During the clinics, participants can learn the basic skills and techniques

The Greene County Tennis Association also helps assist in the early development of tennis enthusiasm and skill by offering free clinics to help children and adults hone their tennis skills.

Bobby Taylor, the owner of Greene Ridge Racquet club, stands with his 2018 Outstanding Tennis Facility of the Year award.

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of the game in a supportive noncompetitive environment. “Going to the extra practices with the kids I know has helped a lot,” said freshman McKinsey Harper, a Greene Central tennis player. The Greene County Tennis Association also established league teams for students. With the leagues, free clinics and U.S. Tennis Association tournaments, students who enjoy playing tennis are provided that opportunity all year. This adds to the refining of tennis skills, especially since women’s tennis is offered August to October, while men’s tennis is offered February to May. Since its creation, the Greene County Tennis Association has worked to encourage children of all ages to give tennis a try and build their skills, while providing support for the school systems. “It helps the school system build the strong program that they have,” Williams said. “The tennis association helps keep tennis alive. We’re such a

small community with so many athletic opportunities, it’s easy for children to get involved in tennis.” During the same time Greene County Tennis Association was establishing events, Clark was working at the high school level to improve the performance of the men’s and women’s tennis teams. Clark came to Greene County and coached tennis from 1988 to 2014. “One of the biggest problems that I had to begin with was a lack of sports discipline,” Clark said. Slowly, Clark and the tennis teams improved their record. The men’s tennis team improved quickly, and in Clark’s second year coaching, the team became one of the eight best teams in the state. “The girl’s program was in really bad shape. They never had a winning record. It was a total rebuilding with the girls. We lost 32 matches in a row. We had our first victory in fall of ‘89,” Clark said. In 1993, the women’s tennis team began to turn the tables, with the first

winning record and went on to win their first conference championship. “A group of freshman girls really turned things around. They put some enthusiasm into the program,” Clark said. Since gaining the title of 2A conference champions, the Greene Central women’s tennis team has not given it up. Now under the direction of Medlin, the women’s tennis team is celebrating its latest victory, which landed them their 25th conference championship title. “I think it’s quite remarkable what the kids accomplish here. We’re the first conference (women’s) champions in school history. The girls continued getting better. They wanted to keep the tradition going,” Clark said. The state record for maintaining the conference championship title is 28 years. Along with programs designed to help foster youth enthusiasm and skills offered by the Greene County

(clockwise from top) GC3 Elite players (front row: L-R) third-grader Caroline Medlin, sixth-grader Coley Dyer, third-grader Charlotte Medlin, (back) Greene Central varsity tennis players Madison Holloman, Logan Wilson and Allana Head all played an influential role in inspiring tennis coach Tim Medlin to create the GC3 Elite Youth Development Initiative. Tennis players (front row: L-R) freshman Venancia Miller, senior Madison Holloman, senior Allana Head, sophomore Kaylee Tucker, sophomore Shayna Cox, (back) senior Logan Wilson sophomore Alli West, Coach Tim Medlin, sophomore Hinson Britt and freshman McKinsey celebrate a game victory. Lauren Haslip serves the ball in a doubles match at the 2018 Snow Hill/ Lenoir Community College Golf and Tennis Tournament. Christopher Lambert serves the ball. Mark Phillips prepares to attack.

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Kathy Williams, president of the Greene County Tennis Association

E S TA B L I S H E D I N 2000 Tennis Association, Greene County Middle School also contains one of the only middle school tennis team programs. New head coach Kaylee Bell is excited for girl’s tennis in the upcoming year. “So far, they’re starting off good. We had 11 players transfer from seventh to eighth grade. They are learning, and the talent is there,” Bell said. Bell participated in Greene County Middle School tennis program when she attended the school. “They’re really great girls. As long as we have fun and do our best, it should be a really great season,” Bell said. The creation of the 2016 Greene County 3 Elite Youth Development Initiative helped further the schools’ and Greene County Tennis Association’s ambition of developing youth tennis skills early on. “We were basically searching for athletes as early as second grade and encourage them to come try tennis. Once a year in May, we announce up to three boys and three girls, and we recognize them, and they become part of a special club and coaching. When we locate them, we start

nurturing them and doing everything we can to progress them, so by the time they get to middle school they are already great,” Medlin said. The Greene County Tennis Association not only wants to enhance students’ tennis skills, but they also want to provide students with scholarship opportunities. Students must play tennis their senior year of high school and be a member of the association to be eligible. Students must also volunteer for at least 10 hours a year at tennis programs or events. By just playing as a senior and volunteering for 10 hours, students will receive $100 after graduation. The association offers students the ability to earn more scholarship money, beginning as early as middle school. The scholarship amount received by the student is based on a point system, with the amount of points varying based on involvement. Students can earn scholarship points for playing in tournaments and volunteering, according to Williams. “We’ve given away $75,000 to senior tennis players since 1997,” Clark said. Community service within

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the tennis community does not end with the Greene County Tennis Association. In 2000, tennis culture grew with the opening of Greene Ridge Racquet Club. This 2,400-square-foot facility features nine lighted tennis courts, a swimming pool and a newly updated gym. Greene Ridge also oers a store inside the clubhouse that supplies needed tennis essentials, such as shoes, racquets and tennis balls. Since its opening, Greene Ridge maintains the record as having one of the largest clay courts east of Raleigh. Greene Ridge is also aďŹƒliated with the U.S. Tennis Association. As an aďŹƒliate, Greene Ridge hosts U.S. Tennis Association tournaments and events throughout the year. In August 2018, the facility garnered the coveted U.S. Tennis Association Facility of the Year award. “It’s good to see a small town beat out Charlotte and Boston to win. The smaller communities have a hard time competing with the bigger guys, so we’re very happy with it,â€? Taylor said. Greene Ridge also has a record of community service. The record began

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Tennis popularity has attracted many people to the region and attracts more than 10,000 people to Snow Hill per year.

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in 1982 when Taylor began hosting tennis tournaments to raise money and provide support for the high school tennis programs. Taylor partnered with Lenoir Community College, and the pair established the Snow Hill/Lenoir Community College Golf and Tennis Tournament. In August 2018, Taylor celebrated his 36th year hosting tournaments in Greene County. The tournaments help provide scholarships to Greene County students

who plan to attend Lenoir Community College. This year, the tournament raised more than $20,000 in scholarship funds. Funds raised by the tournaments only benefit students who live in Greene County. While the popularity of tennis was increasing among Greene County youth, parents began to also become involved in the sport. Parents became Greene County Tennis Association members and began participating in tournaments, according to Taylor. Tennis popularity has attracted many people to the region and attracts more than 10,000 people to Snow Hill per year, according to Taylor. “It does speak volumes in bringing people to the community,� Taylor said. With humble beginnings, tennis culture has slowly embedded itself within the culture of Greene County, transforming the way that outsiders view the area. It has helped bring many people into the area, provided scholarship opportunities and improved athletes, for both adults and children alike.

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about our industry Greene County has a long history of agriculture with home grown industries that compete nationally and internationally. A strong work ethic and independence has migrated from our agricultural roots and into the state of the art industries you find in Greene County today. Among those are machine tool parts, glass curtain walls, fiberglass products, waterfront boatlifts and docks, residential platform lifts, industrial flooring, custom saddles, animal health products, specialty wood trim, cabinets, barn wood restaurant tables, custom furniture and more. Our local entrepreneurs lead the region in the development and production of value-added food products such as vodka, dog food, dairy products, and packaged or pureed vegetables products. Our traditional agriculture roots still produce the best sweet potatoes, grain, tobacco, fresh produce, beef, poultry and pork in the region.

close proximity to four major regional centers Triangle Park, RDU International Airport, ❂ Research East Carolina University and N.C. State University

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❂ capacitors and sports marketing equipment ❂ State leader in use of technology in our school system ❂ 90-minute drive to N.C. coastline

www. greenecountync.gov 468 U.S. 13 S. | 252-747-2641 | Snow Hill 2018 | G REENE L IVING | 11


By BRENDA MONTY

M

Melons & Bloomers

elons & Bloomers plant nursery, located near the western border of Greene County at the intersection of U.S. 13 and Shine Road, offers vegetable and flowering plants and seasonal produce. Owners Dean and Lisa Jones live on Corbett Town Road in Snow Hill. They established the small business three years ago. Lisa retired in 2016 at age 51, after 28 years as a teacher at Snow Hill Primary School. “When I retired, Dean said, ‘We’ve got to find something for you to do,’” Lisa said, adding the venture

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is more a hobby than a job. Dean, 50, has his plate plenty full already with his own business, Buzz Kutz Land Clearing. “This is what pays the bills,” Dean said with a smile, pointing to the Buzz Kutz logo on his T-shirt. He has operated the business for 13 years while at the same time farming 500 acres of multiple family farms. Dean decided to take a break from farming for a year. In addition to traditional crops, Dean raised watermelons. Paulette’s Greenhouse in La Grange supplied

his melon seedlings. Meanwhile, the late Robert Rose sold a parcel of land on the corner of U.S. 13 and Shine Road to the Dollar General discount department store chain. Rose asked Dean if he would like to buy the adjacent property, and he did. “We talked back and forth about what we could put here to make some money,” Lisa said. A year later, another door of opportunity opened wide. “We feel like it was divine intervention,” Lisa said.


Paulette Wade, who owned and operated Paulette’s Greenhouse for 40 years, was ready to leave the business. She asked Dean if he might be interested in buying her out. “Dean said, ‘We could put it on that land at Shine and have a greenhouse business.’ I said, ‘OK,’” Lisa said. “It just felt like it came together; like it was the right thing to do.” Dean added, “We put up a tent and truck and trailer and sold watermelons the first year until we could get something going that was presentable.” The name Melons & Bloomers was Lisa’s idea. She knew the name had to incorporate produce and flowers. “Sometimes we have sweet corn, but we typically always have melons, but it had to have flowers in it. I wanted to play on the word ‘Melons’ and I thought ‘Bloomers.’ When I told my husband Melons and Bloomers, I was actually joking,” Lisa said with a laugh. “He told the sign-painters that was the name of the business, so we ran with it.” The original sign is now faded and will soon be replaced with the logo Lisa designed. She liked the whimsical yard art design of a well-rounded lady in oldfashioned bloomers bent over tending her garden. Lisa’s logo has the woman picking up a watermelon. When the Joneses bought the business, one of Wade’s experienced gardeners, Nora Torres, came to work for them. Sindy Garcia was hired the following year. Alyssa Stafford of Shine was hired as the full-time shopkeeper, and Lisa fills in when needed. “Me and my husband didn’t know a lot about the greenhouse and flower business. We’ve learned a lot. We’ve had good teachers,” Lisa said. “I love being outside. It’s fun.” Garcia keeps everything watered. “Believe it or not, watering is an allday job,” Lisa said. Torres is the master on-site gardener. She is a gifted propagator. “She can pinch off a leaf of most anything and make it grow. She’s done it for a long time. She knows the flowers well. She has a green thumb; there’s no doubt about that,” Lisa said.

It just felt like it came together; like it was the right thing to do. - Lisa Jones

Torres also has an eye for floral design and creates all the business’ mixed potted arrangements in unique planters and containers. Wade also helps out from time to time, passing along what she knows, Lisa added. Stafford has also learned a lot from Torres in three years and is now a jackof-all-trades around the nursery. In peak spring and fall seasons, several male employees pitch in to handle the heavy lifting and deliveries.

Geraniums and ferns are the nursery’s biggest sellers. “We usually try to open in April, whenever the weatherman says no more frost. That’s when people like to start getting in their yards,” Lisa said. The nursery offers petunias, Mexican heather, shrubs and trees, roses, camellia and hibiscus bushes, lilies and more, plus vegetable seedlings for the home gardener. Planters, stands and other garden accessories are available for purchase. They also sell cooked collards by the quart. “We pick them from our farm and cook them there. It’s an all-day process. We may do 150 quarts at a time,” Lisa said. In addition to what he may grow himself, Dean buys produce from local farmers and vendors. “Dean is a people person. He likes making the sales contacts,” Lisa said. The 2018 spring season was especially good for Melons & Bloomers. The business was invited to participate in A Garden Walk Tea Party fundraiser in May 2018, co-hosted by the Greene County Community Foundation and the Forever Young Circle at Calvary Memorial United Methodist Church in Snow Hill. Melons & Bloomers provided all the indoor and outdoor greenery, table arrangements and potted flowers for the tea party, which were available for purchase following the event. “We did very well selling at that event. We were real pleased. We knew a lot of people there, and it was enjoyable,” Lisa said. Sales at Melons & Bloomers slow down in July, when the summer heat is hard on plants and gardeners alike. “When it gets blazing hot, nobody wants to be outside. The flowers and the heat don’t go together well,” Lisa said. In September and October, a sea of vividly colored potted mums emerges from the greenhouses for the fall season. The boom of mum season has been significantly affected by hurricane season. “We sold completely out last 2018 | G REENE L IVING | 13


Melons & Bloomers employee Nora Torres designs unique potted arrangements.

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2 p.m. Saturday, seasonally from April through October. The Joneses’ son, Levi, is a 2018 Greene Central High School graduate. They were delighted when Levi expressed interest in taking over the family’s greenhouse business one day. He is now studying horticulture at Lenoir Community College with plans to transfer to N.C. State University to earn a degree in the field. “Then maybe I can totally retire,” Lisa said with a smile.

year (2017), but we lost two crops to hurricanes,” Dean said, referring to Matthew in October 2016 and Florence that ravaged the southeast region of the state in September 2018. “We lost every one of them in Matthew because it came right at the peak of mum season.” Although Greene County escaped major damage from Florence compared to surrounding areas, mum customers are scarce while disaster recovery efforts are in full swing. Melons & Bloomers also sells mums, geraniums and ferns to Piggly Wiggly grocery stores. “Most ladies like to decorate for the season. I think eventually they will meander here and get something to sit on their front porch,” she said. “Usually by Halloween, people have gotten the fall scenes they want. We do have some pumpkins,” Lisa said. As winter approaches, greenhouse planting of geraniums begins for the following spring. Business hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and from 8 a.m. to

Lisa Jones, co-owner of Melons & Bloomers in Shine.

▼ Sindy Garcia keeps everything well watered at Melons & Bloomers.


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Greene County Museum opened its doors Aug. 2, 2002 to foster, promote and increase the public knowledge and appreciation of the history of Greene County and the state of North Carolina, as well as related cultural aspects of the county such as art, crafts, music, religion, genealogy, agriculture and architecture.

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By DONNA MARIE WILLIAMS

Library A day at the

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ith a desire to serve while providing a relaxing atmosphere, the Greene County Public Library is striving to serve its patrons and residents of Greene County. The library’s history is somewhat obscure and begins with a historical record of the Pythiran Library, established in 1818 in Hookerton. A library was also recorded in the home of Joshua Parrott Mewborn near Jason. In 1908, the library was destroyed in a fire, according to George Mewborn, a member of the Greene County Library Board, Neuse Regional Library Board and the Friends of the Library. In 1848, Albert Harrison Dowell founded the Snow Hill Academy, a community school, which operated under his leadership until 1855. It is believed that the academy may have contained a 18 | G REENE L IVING | 2018

library for use by students. A second Snow Hill Academy was constructed under the leadership of J.E. Debnam, circa 1906, located at the corner of Harper and Fourth streets, and contained a small library that served the school’s students. The Mother’s Club of Snow Hill founded the first public library in 1934. The club gifted the library with 15 books, of which William Titus Creech gave 13. It was located in the community building and operated by volunteers. The American Legion Post 94 took over the community building in 1946, and the building underwent an extensive remodel that allowed the library to expand, according to Mewborn. A bookmobile was obtained in 1949 and helped to further the library’s reach. By 1959, the Greene County Public Library pooled its resources with the

Kinston-Lenoir County Public Library and expanded into Jones County. This partnership began the formation of the Neuse Regional Library System. Branches of the Neuse Regional Library System were also opened in Maysville, Pollocksville and Trenton by 1962, according to Peggy Greene, the chairwomen of the Greene County Public Library Board. “The Neuse Regional Library’s collection includes 143,000 print materials and 55,606 eBooks,” said Sarah Sever, an assistant director for the Neuse Regional Library System. As a part of the Neuse Regional Library System, Greene County Public Library patrons can enjoy access to other libraries within the system. “It makes us stronger (and means) a lot of freedom when it comes to collections and databases (patrons) can access,” Sever said.


The library offers computers specifically for children with learning games.

Donna Edwards, the branch head of the Greene County Public Library, works to ensure patrons feel welcome at the library.

Partnerships allow Greene County Public Library to secure funding at the state level and not just county or town level. “This consolidation of libraries in the three counties allowed patrons access to all the books of the libraries, enabled the regional library to compete successfully for increased state, federal and private funding and ensured professional execution and supervision of library services. It makes good economic sense,” Mewborn said. Greene County Public Library continued to expand its resources by constructing a new facility in 1976. The 6,800-square-foot new facility was built at its present location, 229 Kingold Blvd., Suite G, Snow Hill. In 2008, the Neuse Regional Library performed a long-term needs assessment for the Greene County Public Library with a goal to determine future and current needs. Following assessments, the Greene County Board of Commissioners agreed to allow for the library to expand at its current location. The extension came with the help of a grant from the Golden LEAF, which supplied the majority of funding for the project. “The Greene County Library Board and the Greene County Friends of the Library were instrumental in raising significant private funds to support the project,” Mewborn said. The library expanded by 2,985 square feet on the east side of the building. Architect John Farkas of Greeneville designed the expansion that provided amenities like a computer center and a

modern open floor plan. The open floor plan allows for a larger emphasis on service and technology, according to Greene. Included in the expansion was the addition of the library’s conference room. The conference room is unique because it can be fluid with the library’s needs. The conference room can accommodate approximately 100 people. If needed, two-glass panel walls can be can be removed to allow for the conference room to expand into the open floor plan, according to Donna Edwards, the branch head of the Greene County Public Library. “The wonderful renovated space allows us so much flexibility … We’re able to appeal to the 21st century … It was an important renovation. We needed more space. We needed to diversify our collection. We needed to have a flexible space for a variety of our programs,” Mewborn said. The library also has two study rooms that can accommodate four to six people. These rooms allow for groups to study together or for individuals to study. “We normally come here twice a week to study or do homework. I really like the study rooms because it has (electronic device) chargers, and it’s pretty quiet. It’s just a comfy space,” said Karen Meza, 18, a super senior at Greene County Early College. The study rooms also help provide convenience to patrons. Snow Hill resident Latertia Carmon, 24, attends N.C. Wesleyan College, where she is pursuing a degree in accounting. Carmon attends night classes and uses the

library as a place to study on the nights that she does not have class. Through its expansion, the library has maintained the same values and goals that were present since its opening — provide resources to the residents of Greene County. The library offers patrons a large selection of both fiction and non-fiction books, according to Edwards. “This is a large, well-kept library for the size of Greene County. This library is one of the greatest assets Greene County has and is one of the most used facilities that we have,” Greene said. Along with books, the library offers patrons magazines, CDs, DVDs, BluRay videos, audio books and administrative services, such as faxing, scanning, printing, copying and notary work. The Radio Frequency Identification or RFID System is another unique feature. The RFID prevents library patrons from walking out the door without checking out their library books. It also records the number of patrons that the library receives each day. Approximately 180 patrons visit the library on a daily basis, according to Edwards. Self-checkout is also an option. Patrons can check out books and other library material by using an automated system. This allows patrons to skip lines at the circulation desk and helps to increase the efficiency of circulation transactions, according to Edwards. The library also offers a variety of books for children in both fiction and nonfiction. Children are allotted their own 2018 | G REENE L IVING | 19


space, featuring bright colored chairs, couches and tables, where they are free to browse and read. Children’s computers can also be found at the library. Three computers have been established solely for children with educational games. These games not only teach children math and reading skills, but they help the children to acquire computer skills. “That’s the way the world is now. Children seem to learn quicker,” Edwards said, explaining that as society embraces the use of computers more and more, children need to learn the skills. Greene added, “(The games) are a challenge that keeps (children’s) interest up.” Children’s programs are also offered throughout the year, including story time. The library also hosts a six-week summer reading program during June and July. The program is designed to help prevent the summer backslide that some students face during time off from school, according to Edwards. The summer program requires students complete a scorecard for every 15 minutes they spend reading. Each scorecard represents 10 hours of reading time. Prizes are awarded to the top three children with the most time. “(The library) is the best place in the world for parents to bring their children,” Greene said, explaining reading can take people anywhere they desire to go. The Greene County Public Library is also partnering with the Greene County Schools system and the N.C. Cardinal Consortium of Libraries run by the N.C. State Library in an effort to increase the library’s access to students. As of October 2018, Greene County students can use their school identification card to access library material. Material can be accessed online or at the library. “I think it will bring students out who have never had a library card,” Edwards said, explaining the library requires parents sign for children under the age of 18 before a library card can be issued. Obtaining a library card is free of charge. Programs are also offered to adults by the library during the year and vary depending on patron requests. The library also offers computer literacy classes to adults every other month, including Gmail for email and an internet basics class. The library also offers 20 | G REENE L IVING | 2018

Library study rooms provide Latertia Carmon, 24, of Snow Hill the perfect place to study while she works to earn an accounting degree from Wesleyan College.

device advice. This service allows patrons to bring in their phones, tablets or other devices for assistance. “If we can answer you, we will,” Edwards said, explaining staff can demonstrate basic function capabilities of the devices. One of the most used services that the library offers pertains to job searching. Library staff will help patrons with questions concerning job searching or completing online applications. “We have a lot of people now doing job searches. With the economy the way it is and jobs the way they are, we have regulars who walk in when the doors open,” Edwards said. Another major asset to the Greene County community is that the library provides free internet access. “A lot of people in Greene County do not have internet service,” Greene said. Edwards added, “For a lot of people, internet is not where they are or it is too expensive for them or they don’t have access to a computer. That’s the majority of people who come in here to access computers.” Internet access helps patrons with homework, school projects and job searching, among other things. The Greene County Friends of the Library assists with the production of programs and offers a variety of speakers, storytellers, and musical and dramatic events the library presents throughout

the year. It also provides support to the library. “Our mission is to promote and support our community library for the education and recreation of Greene County residents,” Greene said. The Friends also promotes library use by publicizing its programs and services throughout the community. The Friends hosts a bookmark contest every year for children. Children design bookmarks based on a theme the library provides, and winners receive prizes. “The children look forward to it every year,” Edwards said. Greene County Friends also sponsors a continuous book sale at the rear of the library. Money raised from the book sale goes to benefit the library. “They are our biggest supporter,” Edwards said, adding the library strives to be a welcoming resource for the Greene County and surrounding areas. “I’m just happy that (patrons) come here. We’re here to support them.” The library is always open to suggestions on programs patrons wish to see, she added. The Greene County Public Library employs two full-time and three part-time staff. The library is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, call 252-7473437.


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Greene County Chamber of Commerce board of directors (front row: L-R) board member Neil Murray, treasurer Judy Darden, (back) president Ray Holloman, board member Susan Andrews, board member Dianne Andrews, executive director Miranda Mersman, (not pictured) secretary Rebecca Barrow, board members Lee Heath, Michael Fulcher, Amber Stocks, vice president Deborah Katkaveck and board member Renata Harper.

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By AMBER REVELS-STOCKS

La Monarca Michoacan ice cream, fruit bars & fun Every fall, thousands of monarch butterflies migrate from their summer homes in British Columbia, Canada, to their winter homes in Michoacan, Mexico. It is an almost 3,000-mile trip made by butterflies less than four inches in size. That same spirit of determination can be seen at La Monarca Ice Cream and Fruit Bar in downtown Snow Hill, named after the Spanish term for the monarch butterflies. “We wanted to highlight our roots,” said owner Salvador Tinoco. “The monarch butterfly has the longest migration in the world. They end up in Michoacan, which is the state in Mexico we’re from.” Tinoco and his family opened La Monarca in 2016 after a previous Mexican ice cream store vacated the space. “They left the community, and people were coming from New Bern to a shutdown building,” Tinoco said. He tries to be polite, but it is obvious he does not like how the previous store ran their business. “(The previous store) purchased their ice cream out of state,” Tinoco said. 24 | G REENE L IVING | 2018

As soon as the Tinocos took over, that changed. “We make everything on site. We cut out the middleman entirely,” Tinoco said. “We couldn’t find a distributor for traditional Michoacan ice cream, so my mom went to Mexico to learn how to make it. … We wanted to create ice cream like how it’s made in our native country.” After nearly three months of rigorous training, La Monarca was ready to make its own ice cream. “We try to use local as possible,” Tinoco said. “The fruit bars are North Carolinasourced first. The milk is from Simply Natural Creamery (another Snow Hill business). We try to make new flavors every week based on the season. Offseason, we may reach further south, but it’s still local. Even if we have to pay more, we prefer to use local ingredients.” All ice cream and fruit bars are made on site, using the techniques the Tinocos learned in Michoacan. The ice cream is made in small three-gallon batches in a cool room in the shop. The inner container is filled with fresh fruit, the ice cream base and seasonings. Then it is placed inside the outer container and super-salty cold

water is poured between the two containers. The salt content in the water, cools the


mixture down faster than regular cold water would. The inner container has a paddle that mixes the fruit and cream mixture. Then the ice cream is frozen for at least 12 hours before being moved to the display case. “We don’t make a lot at one time because we want to maintain quality,” Tinoco said. “We make (ice cream batches) every week.” This allows the Tinocos to play with flavors and try new things as well. If a flavor does not work out, it is not a big loss. “Every week, we try to make a new flavor,” he said. “This is based on the season. We do a lot of strawberries in the summer, for example. We also do a lot with mangos.” The most popular flavors are coffee mocha ice cream, which is made with

coffee from a local roaster, and sweet potato fruit bars, which are made with Greene County sweet potatoes. Tinoco also recommends trying the chocolate chip almond ice cream if a visitor has never had Michoacan ice cream before. It is a flavor most guests are familiar with, which allows them to taste the difference between the American and Michoacan ice creams. La Monarca also offers popular Hispanic treats, such as fruit cocktails and mangonadas. The cocktails are made with fresh fruit chopped every morning. Mangonadas are made with mango ice cream, fresh mangos, lime juice, chili powder and chamoy, a sweetand-sour liquid. Tinoco joked that he has gained weight since starting La Monarca, but he would not change it for anything. “I never get bored working here. Every day is something new,” Tinoco said. “Who doesn’t like ice cream? We all love it.” His long-term goal for the store is 2018 | G REENE L IVING | 25


to be able to distribute Michoacan ice cream and fruit bars to other stores. “We can’t do that right now, not if we want to maintain the quality we have here,” Tinoco said. In addition to the ice cream and fruit bars, La Monarca also offers coffee and espresso, Hispanic snacks and American treats. “There’s not really a hangout spot in Snow Hill,” Tinoco said. “We’re trying to be that spot.” To achieve that goal, La Monarca is decorated in earth tones to feel more inviting. The monarch butterfly can be found in lamps, the logo and even tables. It also has two outdoor seating areas, one in the back and one in front, to allow people to enjoy their ice cream in the sunshine. The community has responded well to the shop, according to Tinoco. “We make sure people leave happy,” he said. “Satisfied customers are the icing on the cake that makes us as business owners happy. La Monarca is family-owned and operated, but it prides itself on hiring

26 | G REENE L IVING | 2018

The monarch butterfly has the longest migration in the world.They end up in Michoacan, which is the state in Mexico we’re from. -Salvador Tinoco

young adults. “We create jobs for our young people, give them something productive to do,” Tinoco said. “It’s awesome to provide back to our community. The community has given us so much, so it just makes sense to try to do the same for it.” That is why the Tinocos have a vision larger than just their ice cream and fruit bars. “Our ultimate goal is to have Snow

Hill be a destination for visitors, not a drive-by for them. We do that by having good food and music as a magnet to bring people in,” he said. “On Sunday, we have people come from everywhere. They come from all sorts of different places, from different cultures and different age groups. “This is important to have in Greene County. A lot of people have watched this area, called ‘The Square,’ be transformed. We want to promote this whole area.” For this reason, cross promotion is very important to the Tinocos. Most of La Monarca’s business comes from other restaurants in the area, such as La Flama Mexican Restaurant, Greene Street Diner and Half Moon Diner, according to Tinoco. “We want this community to thrive,” Tinoco said. “What’s good for us is good for Greene Street, for Half Moon, for the community. The ultimate vision is bringing economic development to Greene County.” Because Greene County is located “20 minutes from everywhere,” Tinoco


feels it is on the precipice of growth. “If we work hard to bring people in, we can be that destination I want Snow Hill to become,” he said. “We have to have businesses that offer what people want.” Tinoco is aware that will not happen overnight. La Monarca is one piece of a 15-year dream on his part. “It’s been awesome to see a 15-year project transform the town,” he said. “This has been 15 years of 100-hour weeks, not 8-5, not five days (a week). This has been 24-hours, seven days a week.” He is happy to do it, though. “That’s what it takes to make a change,” Tinoco said. “I see the potential in this town. I can see Snow Hill become the next vibrant, small town.” La Monarca Ice Cream and Fruit Bar, 111 S.E. Second St., Snow Hill, is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. For more information, call 252-747-4336. 2018 | G REENE L IVING | 27


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By AMBER REVELS-STOCKS

WOOLEY SWAMP FARM

a home for many

s one travels down the U.S. 13 bypass into Snow Hill, keep an eye out for a turnoff. Head down the dirt path, shadowed by a canopy of trees and curving around a pond, past the two-story bait and game butcher shop to the house. There one will find the owners of Wooley Swamp Farm Campground, David and Sherry Madures. They bought the property in 2007 but started the campground in 2011. “David and I opened this because we know a lot of people who love to fish, love to camp,” Sherry said. “We own 137 acres. We used to do hunting, but we’re getting too old to do stuff like that.” Now they focus on fishing and camping. Wooley Swamp Farm has four 30 | G REENE L IVING | 2018

small bunkhouses, seven RV sites and multiple tent sites. “When the water is down, we do offer tent sites along the creek,” Sherry said. “We do offer RV spaces, and we do offer cabins that we rent.” The cabins are primitive. They are on stilts and located around the pond. “They have beds, dorm refrigerators, microwaves, coffee pots,” Sherry said. “It’s just enough to be comfortable, but you’re still camping.” There is also a walking trail that takes people from the catch-and-release pond and RV camping site to the creek. The Madureses love to hunt and fish, so opening the campground made sense to them. “My husband was definitely raised to do fishing and hunting, and we’ve brought our children up the same way. I

love to hunt and fish,” Sherry said. “It’s a beautiful place here, and we wanted people to be able to enjoy that and have a place to bring their kids. “They’re not out on the street; the parents know their children are here and that they’re safe,” Sherry said. “They can be here and have a good time and not be on the computer, not be on their phone. They can come out here in nature and learn what nature really is.” A lot of people come during the cooler months to tent camp in the woods and fish on the creek. Anglers need a license to catch fish on the creek. “There’s a lot of catfish on the creek; there’s also bream, bass, a lot of turtles. Most people catch bream or catfish,” Sherry said. “The creek is dinner, but the pond is catch-and-release.”


The Madureses keep the catchand-release pond stocked with bass. Anglers do not need a license because it is a private pond. “We keep this pond catch-andrelease for the smaller kids. We have so many children that come here and catch their first fish. Then they grow up to 16- or 17-year-olds and come back to fish with a license in the creek,” Sherry said. “Seeing young’uns for the first time catching fish and that experience for them is amazing. … You will not believe how many young’uns I’ve seen kiss the fish before they release it back into the pond. That’s the stuff they’ll remember forever, and that’s worth everything.” Kayaks and canoes are allowed on the creek and pond for $5, just so the Madureses can maintain the launches. Wooley Swamp Farms also offers rentals for $5 per hour or $15 per day. “We try to keep the prices low so people can afford it,” Sherry said. “We want to offer an affordable place where you can bring the kids and have fun.” Sherry and David also make sure it is an attractive place for nature lovers. “We have geese, ducks and chickens,” Sherry said. “They’re ours. We open the pond up for people who may need to relocate their ducks.” There is also a lot of wildlife, including hawks, owls, raccoons, grey foxes and deer. A big buck is a fan of standing between the creek and the path while watching over his mate and offspring, according to David. “You would think we would get a lot of snakes, but we really don’t,” Sherry said. “Believe it or not, chickens will do everything they can to keep them out of here. We have a few king snakes that will eat other snakes. So we don’t have many snakes out.” It is not uncommon for people to travel from far away to visit Wooley Swamp Farm, and it is not uncommon for them to return for years after. “Would you believe we’ve had people from the Ukraine here in Greene County?” Sherry asked. “We don’t do a lot of advertising, but it’s mainly word of mouth. When we still had the hunts, we had people from the Ukraine come 2018 | G REENE L IVING | 31


I served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and this is my way to get away from all of that. I don't say I have PTSD, but if I did,

this would be my calming point.

down here and visit. They’ve come back two years in a row now.” Wooley Swamp Farm has had visitors from every state. “A lot of military people come here from other states,” Sherry said. “We try to keep in contact with them when they leave. Whenever they’re in the neighborhood, they come back to see how David and I are doing.” The Madureses want to give back to service members, so they work very hard to make the camp inviting for the military. “The first year we opened, we opened it up to the military on holidays, where if they didn’t have anyone, they could come here and we’d cook for them,” said Sherry. “We shut down the campground,

32 | G REENE L IVING | 2018

except to the military, and cooked them Thanksgiving.” David added, “We had 45 or 50 people for Thanksgiving. It was a lot of good people, and we just fed them everything, so they could have a holiday meal with the family.” The Madureses hope to get back to offering those meals again. “Some people that are leaving to go home, that have their orders and are no longer in the barracks, we’ve opened our cabins to them,” Sherry said. “We had a young military man who was getting ready to go home, and he needed a place to stay for a couple of weeks—it ended up months. We got very close with him, and by the time he left, this was home to him. His family was back out

- George Soter

in Oklahoma, and they were waiting for him. We gave him a nice, quiet place to be until that time. … The day his family came to pack him up, it was like losing a family member. We still keep in touch through Facebook and everything.” George Soter is a 24-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. “I have two houses in Farmville, but this is home. I have family up in Farmville, but Ms. Sherry and David are quieter,” Soter said. “I was here in goat season, and they were right over there shooting, and it never bothered me at all. Anywhere else, I would’ve jumped up and panicked. Here, I never thought twice. … I don’t even bring my guns here because I don’t need them. This is a safe place.”


Soter stays at Wooley Swamp Farm because it is a peaceful way for him to get back to nature. “I came out of Abu Dhabi and needed a place to crash, and Wooley Swamp was here,” Soter said. “I served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and this is my way to get away from all of that. I don’t say I have PTSD, but if I did, this would be my calming point.” He wishes there were more locations like Wooley Swamp Farm for veterans to enjoy some peace and quiet in nature. “Veterans need places like this. These people are my medication,” Soter said. “I know a lot of guys with PTSD. I know a lot of guys who committed suicide. I think a place like this would’ve been good for them.” Sherry added, “That’s another reason we try so hard to keep this open, because it is someplace that the military can have and come. Knowing they have a place to stay, that warms my heart.” Wooley Swamp Farm also supports the local Boy Scouts and the handicapped population, according to David. “I came out of (my RV) this morning, and there’s Dave helping this guy right here, who is severely handicapped,” Soter said. “Dave was washing his trailer, so I grab my brush and go over and help. That’s how we are here. That’s

how it should be everywhere.” He added, “Who does that? Nobody even thinks to do those sorts of things for others.” The Madureses also believe in giving back to their local community. Following the onslaught of Hurricane Florence, David and Sherry opened the campground to people from New Bern. “We’ve been there. We know what it’s like to lose everything due to a flood. You feel very alone,” Sherry said. After Hurricane Matthew hit in October 2016, the Madurses had to start over. “We lost our business; we lost our income. But that’s where the people who do come here year after year got together,” Sherry said. “When a catastrophe happens, you have to band together to help other people. It’s what you’re supposed to do.” Eight months later, they flooded again. “I want (the victims of Hurricane Florence) to understand that we care about them. If you need us, we are here,” Sherry said. “The gentleman called me from New Bern, explained their situation and my heart went out. … If this is the least I can do for these people, then we’ll do it.” David added, “A lot of people just needed to be able to move inland.”

The Wooley Swamp Farm community rallied around the family and offered them clothing and food. “At least they are safe. They have a place to stay,” Sherry said. “You give back, even when it’s painful.” The Madureses love meeting people and the family they have found by operating the campground. “When you’re here, you’re family to us. We will do whatever we can do to make your experience good,” Sherry said. “When you have a job that gives you this much fulfillment, it’s worth keeping. That’s why we fight so hard to keep this running.” She added, “It’s the hugs. It’s the family. That’s what it is about. … Until I die, the best thing for me is the young’uns who come here as kids and as they grow up, they keep coming back.” The Madureses hope to expand the campground with 38 RV sites. This would enable them to have more campers as well as allow some campers to stay longer. “If they had (the expansion), I would just park (my RV) here year round and she wouldn’t ever go into storage,” said Soter. Wooley Swamp Farm is located at 581 U.S. 13 Bypass, Snow Hill. For more information, call 252-939-0112 or check them out on Facebook. 2018 | G REENE L IVING | 33


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By BRENDA MONTY

Lifetime Angler sharing the passion for fishing with the next generation Samantha Gay loves to take Rams fishing — Rams who are students in Greene County Schools, that is. Gay has made it her mission to give kids in her rural community every opportunity to get on the water. The Greene County Intermediate School media coordinator is a self-proclaimed tomboy who grew up in Walstonburg fishing in local ponds. “My father (Sammy Gay) was an avid outdoorsman. I was the son he never had. I was his shadow. I fished and hunted with him,” Gay said. Next to her father, her paternal grandmother, Dot, played the greatest role in developing her love of fishing. “She would take me and my cousins in her station wagon to a local fishing hole to fish all day long,” Gay said. Her love of the sport continued into adulthood and into Greene County Intermediate School, where she worked as the technology assistant. “The kids knew I fished and would ask me about it at school. They would ask what I was catching, how did I do it and could they go with me,” Gay said. In 2015, she accompanied her father to the Bass Master Classic Hall of Fame induction banquet, where she learned the organization planned to build an outdoor recreation facility where the next generation of anglers could attend fishing camps. “As I was sitting there listening to them, I thought, ‘I could do something like that at home,’” Gay said. “Instead of just talking to the kids about fishing, I could actually take them fishing.” The following month, she got permission from the school superintendent to start a fishing team. While she looked for team sponsorship, she organized a fishing field trip for fourth-graders, held at a farm pond owned by Dale and Kathy Pridgen in Snow Hill. Gay contacted people she knew in the fishing industry, who spoke to marketing directors and company presidents, who agreed to help. Eight 36 | G REENE L IVING | 2018


companies donated fishing gear to outfit 26 students and 13 volunteers. Each kid took home a rod and tackle. “They left with everything they needed to continue to learn about fishing and grow their passion for it,” Gay said. Gay remembers what a difference the sport made in her life as a child. “In fourth grade, I was a socially awkward, tubby, round tomboy. Fishing was where I was comfortable. I didn’t have to be good at something in order to fish,” she said. “There’s a lot of trouble kids could get into, so if they start fishing, that might give them a positive alternative to other choices they might make later.” Gay witnessed an immediate change in her students who had been acting out because they were bored or didn’t fit in. “If they’re not in academics and they’re not playing sports or into band and things like that, there’s just not a lot out there for them. It was important for me to share with them something that might change

their lives in the future,” Gay said. She saw students grow socially and academically. “I wanted them to see, especially that year, that hard work pays off and people notice when you put your best foot forward,” she said. In 2016, interest and support grew to 28 companies that sponsored equipment for 78 fifth graders at the second field trip. A local tackle supplier, Bernie Joe Waldron of BJ & Sons Custom Rods and Tackle in Walstonburg, rigged rods and tied hooks at the events and donated a custom rod for a prize drawing among volunteers. Steven Dail of Out of This World Entertainment in Snow Hill set up a fun photo booth at the pond. Gay learned there was a Bass Masters high school series newly organized in North Carolina. Joining the league would give Gay and a high school fishing team the insurance coverage they needed. Gay has since established a nonprofit

organization called Fishers of Kids Anglers Academy to fund the team. In February 2017, approximately 70 students showed up to the interest meeting, and the Greene Central Fishing Rams team was formed. Two weeks later, nearly a dozen participated in their first bass tournament on Lake Gaston. Each participating two-man team must provide its own boat and captain. Gay used social media to gather captains and sponsorship for the trip. “In tournaments, captains are encouraged to show the kids the ropes, teach them how to run the trolling motor and the whole tournament side of fishing,” Gay said. “Captains are not allowed to fish. The kids have to net their own fish.” The Rams competed against 14 teams in eastern North Carolina in their first tournament and took third-place. Students have participated in numerous tournaments since then. “Once the news got out that I had a high school team, I had the younger kids and parents talking to me about it,” Gay said, adding there are also junior divisions in the North Carolina league. Gay was especially proud when 12-yearold junior Fishing Rams Tyler Baker and Caleb Speight of Greene County placed third in the 2017 N.C. Bassmaster Junior Tournament. Then they were invited to represent North Carolina in the 2018 Bass Federation Junior World Championship held in Arkansas in August. Gay knows the excitement of tournament fishing. She began fishing Bass Nation qualifiers in March 2016. “It was nothing for me to be the only girl out there with 100 guys,” Gay said. Women often ask her if the all-male competition makes her feel intimidated or at a disadvantage. “Not at all. You put a rod and reel in my hand, and you have just leveled the playing field. The fish don’t know who is on the other end of that line,” she said. Gay qualified in her third tourney to become the first female competitor on the North Carolina team in the eastern regional Bass Nation tournament in Maryland. Gay continues to both compete on her own and coach the Greene Central 2018 | G REENE L IVING | 37


Fishing Rams, who recently competed in September in the 2018 N.C. Bassmaster High School Series – Eastern Division tournament at Lake Gaston. “Exposure to nature is very important to children’s development, intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually and physically,” Gay said. “Research shows that outdoor experiences help reduce negative stress and protect psychological wellbeing, especially in children undergoing stressful events.” By encouraging children to get out and enjoy the simplicity of nature, while doing something so rewarding as fishing, they are able to obtain knowledge and skills that can be applied to all areas of their lives, she added. “Knowing how to fish instills confidence, as it builds independence and self-worth. It also teaches children the wonders of the great outdoors and an appreciation and respect for nature,” Gay said. “Unfortunately, in the technological age we live in, people — especially children — spend less time playing outdoors. Children are spending more time indoors,

glued to a television set and/or video games, becoming less active, which has profound effects on their health.” There are approximately 45 members on the Fishing Rams team. There is no cost to join.

Although team participation is open to all Greene Central students, no females have shown interest, according to Gay. She hopes this will change. When asked if parents are reluctant to allow their sons to be coached by an

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attractive, young female teacher, Gay said, “They know my love for fishing. A lot of the reason these people are comfortable with me is because I’ve worked in the school system for over 10 years. I went to school with the parents of some of the kids that fish with me.� More or less, Gay, who has a teenage daughter herself, is simply viewed as the big sister or the cool aunt who loves to fish. “Research shows that the female side of angling has grown exponentially in the last year or so. Takemefishing.org has put out some research that says nine times out of 10, females are the ones that take kids fishing for the first time,� she said. Christy Speight, a team member’s mother, added, “Men typically don’t want to deal with kids. They want to be fishing themselves.� There are many reasons Gay works as hard as she does for the youth fishing. However, one stands out. Gay said, “It is such an honor to know that these children look up to me and show such an interest and respect for what I love to do.� She humbly acknowledges and appreciates that she is only able to do what she does for youth with the support of social media followers. Gay welcomes the public to follow her and her fishing adventures, whether with Greene County kids or on her own, on Facebook at Samantha Gay or Fishers of Kids Anglers Academy, on Instagram at #catchingfish_notfeelings or at fishersofkidsanglersacademy.org or samanthagayfishing.com.

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