Students from Shelbyville High School on Wednesday joined in an educational project that feeds into the future, not only for the students, but for Lake Shelbyville.

“At Shelbyville High School, we are committed to building partnerships all across our wonderful community,” said Shelbyville High School Principal Kyle Ladd. “The coordinated effort today, represents a growing partnership between the Army Corps of Engineers, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Lake Shelbyville Fish Alliance, and Shelbyville High School.”

Almost 50 years ago, Lake Shelbyville officially opened on the Kaskaskia River at Shelbyville. It was dedicated Sept. 12, 1970. It will celebrate its 50th Anniversary next year.

Even before the dedication, there had been a partnership created between the City of Shelbyville, Shelby County, the Illiois department of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That partnership is continuing into another generation as Shelbyville High School students dive into the Shelbyville Lake Project.

On Wednesday, the SHS students participated in the insertion of fish habitats into Lake Shelbyville to continue to provide for the procreation of the various species that inhabit the lake and the promulgation of continued conservation.

“Our students are so incredibly fortunate to have shared in this experience with so many trusted and talented individuals,” Ladd said. “It is very encouraging to see local leaders helping to inspire our young people with a shared message of camaraderie and cooperation.”

Greg Harkins, physical education teacher in the school district and coach of the SHS Bass Fishing Team, was also involved in the project.

“We had around 20 students from Shelbyville High School out at Bo Woods Ramp and Cole Shaft Ramp helping the USACE and IDNR place fish habitats around the lake,” Harkins said.

According to Harkins, the students had different jobs throughout the day. Some where transporters moving the fish habitats from the ground to the boats. Others were markers, marking the GPS coordinates where all the habitats were placed. Others were the droppers, dropping the fish habitats in the lake.

“We had the bass fishing team out there helping along with other students, who have shown interest in a career with the IDNR or USACE,” Harkins said. “This was a great experience for all involved to help preserve the wonderful resource of Lake Shelbyville, a great community service project, and learning about the line of work and different things the IDNR and USACE does.”

Students were also involved in the promotion of the project.

“We also had a group of students, behind the scenes, videoing and photographing the day,” Harkins said, “to help promote this awesome project that the USACE and IDNR has going on with the fish habitat.”

Ladd explained how the effort will continue through upcoming projects the students will be involved in.

“In the coming months, we are planning to manufacture artificial fish habitats within our vocational program,” Ladd said. “We are planning to grow aquatic vegetation in our agricultural greenhouse, help to produce original video content in partnership with professional videographer Kylie Daniel, and work toward facilitating conversations in economic development.”

Shelbyville High School will be known for their educational opportunities and their partnerships at the Lake Shelbyville Project.

“We look forward to engaging in meaningful conversations with the City of Shelbyville, the Office of Tourism, and the Shelbyville Chamber of Commerce. The learning experience provided to our students as a result of this partnership is shaping up to be a one-of-a-kind opportunity. For that, we are thankful.”

John Curtis can be reached at

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