One of the things that I enjoy about living in Southwest Missouri is the Neosho National Fish Hatchery.

One of the things that I enjoy about living in Southwest Missouri is the Neosho National Fish Hatchery.
When I was a kid, every once in a while we would go to the hatchery and actually got to drive inside around the ponds. Then there were the times that we could feed the rainbow trout.
I can tell you this: Those fish really, really appreciated the food. When Greg and I would throw food into the pond, the fish would surface, grab the food and go back down into the water.
Fast forward into my adult years. Tina and I still visit the hatchery, whether it is to walk the dogs, feed the fish or look inside the newer visitor center and its exhibits.
The hatchery also has done a lot for the community, including the kids’ fishing derby in June, followed by the senior/disabled people fishing derby the week after the kids.
The newest derby is the Rainbows for Veterans derby March 19. Opening ceremonies begin at 9:30 a.m., fishing at 10 and the event concluding at 2 p.m. This is free trout fishing for all veterans, who can register that day for the event.
Even though I am not a veteran, I have seen how these veterans love to attend the fishing derby. From registration to picking out their fishing poles, baiting the hooks and catching fish, they have smiles on their faces.
Every one of them who I have talked to during the event has expressed a sincere gratitude to the Friends of the Neosho National Fish Hatchery, hatchery staff and countless volunteers. It’s truly a great event to give back to the veterans.
On a personal note, as many of you know, my dad and my wife are veterans. A couple of years ago Tina attended the event. She really enjoyed catching fish and noted it had been a while since she fished.
If you are a veteran and love to fish, I highly recommend attending the upcoming fishing derby.
Todd G. Higdon is a staff writer and writes a weekly column. He can be reached at thigdon@ neoshodailynews.com. Follow him on twitter at @toddghigdon NDN.