More than just a flash in the pan

Students attended the Vancouver International Boat Show, selling hand made flashers for ocean fishing

Members of the NSS outdoor education program had the opportunity to meet with members of the Vancouver Search and Rescue team while attending the Vancouver International Boat Show on the weekend of Jan. 23. From left to right: Bryce Friedeneberger

Students in the outdoor education program at Nakusp Secondary School (NSS) got a chance to show off their entrepreneurialskills at the Vancouver International Boat Show.

They were there selling flashers, a piece of equipment used mainly for ocean fishing. Each one costs $45, and looks like awindmill going through the water, and is used to attract fish like salmon or halibut.

“The students, when they’re standing in that booth, they have to be able to explain the flashers, and sell them,” said DorianBoswell, the outdoor education instructor at NSS. “They have to explain the program that they’re in, and they have to explaintourism and what’s available in Nakusp and the valley of Arrow Lakes.”

This is the fourth year students have been participating in the event, and the third year they’ve been at the boat show.

It is estimated about 30,000 people attended the event this year.

The students made all the flashers by hand.

The students didn’t invent them, but they have made improvements to them, and have been working with the inventor inpartnership, and he lets them market the flashers.

Normally, the flashers are made of Plexiglas. Not anymore.

“We started using a new material, lexan, instead of Plexiglas.” said Cailon McQuair, one of the students in the class.

Lexan is a transparent plastic of high impact strength, which is used for things like cockpit canopies and bulletproof screens.

It wasn’t just all work for the students. They were able to go on a few field trips as well, including going to Science World, goingrock climbing, and attending a Chinese ballet.

“The first couple of years we’d been going to the show, there wasn’t enough money for us to do anything besides show up to theshow, because hotel fees in itself cost us a lot of money,” said Abby Boswell. “Since we’ve been building up the program,investing in the program, and also a lot of help from the community, it has allowed us to go and do these other field trips andsee different parts of Vancouver.”

Sales have been going very well for the flashers.

In the first year, the class made about $2,000, and about $7,000 the year after that. Last year, they made about $10,000, andabout $19,000 this year.

“For the first time in four years, we are now sustainable. We are actually making as much money, or more, than it requires to beable to do what we do.” said Boswell.

While they are in the black for the first time since starting the program, the purchasing of materials is expensive. Some of whatthey buy comes from the United States, and with the Canadian dollar so low, their prices have had to go up.

Canadians will walk up and say ‘Forty-five dollars, that’s a lot’ and then we tell them they’re all hand made, the money goesinto the program, and also the Canadian dollar is so low, so when we order our supplies from the United States, we’re payingmore money, so we have to charge more.” said Abby Boswell.

While the students work hard in creating the flashers, Mr. Boswell said a lot of thanks is owed to the community

“We could not do this without the community support we get. From the grants that we get from the different organizations in thecommunity, to the businesses in this community, it’s amazing,” he said.

“This program wouldn’t exist if we didn’t have that community backing.”