ATHENS, Texas–Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris presented a check for $650,000 to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center at a banquet in Grapevine April 16. The gift was Morris’ way of expediting the construction of a new education building at TFFC. He pledged at an April 3, 2004, banquet to match dollar-for-dollar, up to $650,000, funds raised by April 16, 2005, by Schooling for Bass, a Dallas support group headed by Richard (“Dick”) Hart. The volunteer group responded by raising $711,000. Morris made the presentation accompanied by Bass Pro Shops staff and friends. “This check isn’t from one person; it comes from a lot of people,” Morris said. “It comes from the people at Bass Pro Shops. It comes from our customers. And it comes with a tremendous amount of gratitude to Schooling for Bass members, TFFC staff, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director Robert Cook and to all of the incredible people who are a part of Texas Parks and Wildlife. The fishermen and women and future generations of fishermen not only of this state but of our nation are deeply grateful to you for your visionary leadership and incredible support of the sport of fishing.” Bass Pro Shops has a long association with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. In November 1986, Mark Stevenson caught a new state record largemouth bass, which also became the first entry into what is now the Budweiser ShareLunker program. Stevenson named the bass Ethel, and that fish later was given to Bass Pro Shops and was displayed at the company’s headquarters in Springfield, Mo. The check Morris presented to TFFC was inscribed “In memory of Ethel.” In accepting the donation, TPWD Executive Director Robert L. Cook said, “Texas Parks and Wildlife Department depends on partnerships to accomplish its goals. This is truly a win/win situation. We thank all the Schooling for Bass members and Bass Pro Shops so much.” Other organizations and individuals contributing to the building fund were Kathie and Ed Cox Jr., Eric Kincaid, ExxonMobil Foundation, Cain Foundation, Ginger Murchison Foundation, Hillcrest Foundation, Sheila and Walter Umphrey, Friona Industries, Hoblitzelle Foundation, Cathey and Don Humphreys, Texas Game Warden Association and J.B. Katz Foundation. Also attending the banquet were Joseph Fitzsimons, chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, Commissioner Philip Montgomery, Inland Fisheries Division Director Phil Durocher and former TPWD Executive Director Andrew Sansom. TFFC director Allen Forshage noted, “With completion of this new $1.5 million educational facility, TFFC will have an outdoor education center unmatched in North America.” The Edwin L. Cox Jr., Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens combines visitation and outdoor education with a production fish hatchery. TFFC is a facility of the Inland Fisheries Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the state agency charged with the management and conservation of the natural and cultural resources of Texas. TPWD also works to provide hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Built as a joint venture between TPWD, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, Inc., and the community of Athens, TFFC includes a wetlands trail and over 300,000 gallons of indoor and outdoor aquariums displaying dozens of species of native fish, waterfowl, alligators and amphibians in recreated habitats. TFFC invites both individual and group visitation. Reservations are recommended for groups of 10 or more. Admission is charged. Public hours are 9a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday. Bass Pro Shops, also a major catalog and internet retailer, has 27 destination retail locations across America and Canada.