2023 Youth Scholarship Winners

2023 Youth Scholarship Winners

On June 15th, Mud Hole Custom Tackle had the honor of hosting the 2nd annual Awards Banquet for the CCA Florida Youth Scholarship Program presented by the Mud Hole Custom Tackle Education Program. The banquet capped off an exciting week of conservation-focused activities and competition for ten Florida high school students pursuing college funding and an opportunity to make a positive impact to the environment and their communities.  Read the official press release here.

The Competition

High school sophomores and juniors from across the state of Florida were encouraged to submit an application and essay in order to be considered for the Youth Scholarship Program.  Only 10 applicants were accepted to participate in the 5-day program and competition.  

The 10 students engaged in several hands-on, fun, conservation-minded activities throughout the week, including:

  • touring the Duke Energy Mariculture Center in Crystal River
  • fishing for barramundi at Osceola Outback Adventures in St. Cloud
  • behind the scenes tour at Sea Life Orlando Aquarium
  • visit the Orlando Eye for information about the Florida headwaters
  • behind the scenes tour of the Bajio Sunglasses headquarters and factory in New Smyrna Beach
  • beach cleanup on New Smyrna Beach
  • building a custom fishing rod at Mud Hole's Rod Building Education Center

During the week, students prepared and presented speeches about their proposed policy solutions to benefit Florida's natural resources. Students were rated based on these speeches as well as their attention, focus, creativity, and overall engagement throughout the week.

The Winners

The week was completed with a wonderful banquet dinner at Mud Hole headquarters in Oviedo, which included the students sharing with their parents, CCA officials, Mud Hole officials and additional VIP guests, some of their favorite moments (including getting stuck in an elevator together) and a video recap of their experience.  But in the end, everyone was attending to find out the winners of Mud Hole's Matt McGuffee College Scholarship Initiative awards:

1st Place, $3,000 Scholarship:  Samuel Bernbaum of Maitland
Samuel Bernbaum - 1st Place Winner

2nd Place, $2,000 Scholarship:  Carson Smith of Panama City

Carson Smith - 2nd Place Winner

 3rd Place, $1,000 Scholarship:  Emma Hoelle of Sarasota

Emma Hoelle - 3rd Place Winner

Congratulations to Samuel, Carson, and Emma on your outstanding achievements!  And thank you to all of the participants for pushing to make a difference. We look forward to seeing more of your efforts in the future.

Scholarship Grand Prize Still to be Earned...

All ten participating students now have the opportunity to win the Youth Scholarship Program Grand Prize of $5,000 by returning to their communities to create and implement conservation and awareness programs that make a positive impact. Students will submit their program results in early 2024 for evaluation and consideration for the Grand Prize...so stay tuned!

The Mud Hole Custom Tackle Education Program is proud to work closely with CCA Florida to develop Florida's future conservation leaders through the Youth Scholarship Program. Mud Hole and CCA have a longstanding partnership supporting programs that protect Florida's natural resources. Whether through volunteerism, financial resources, or simply helping to get the word out about CCA initiatives, Mud Hole and its employees are always ready to pitch in!


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