Trout tournament donates $40,000 to establish Beaufort Co. Community College marine scholarship

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WITN) – Beaufort County Community College Foundation has established a new scholarship thanks to a new area fishing tournament and festival.

According to the foundation, the First Annual Belhaven Trout Tournament and Festival recently donated $40,000 to establish a new scholarship for students in boat manufacturing or marine-related programs.

The Belhaven Chamber of Commerce established the tournament and festival after being approached by Captain Hugh Sutton, of Pungo Charters, LLC, who said he noticed a rising popularity in recreational fishing in the Pungo River and thought the idea would attract new recreational fishing tourists.

“Knowing the great fishing for speckled trout in this area, it seemed that a fishing tournament would be a great fundraiser for this area,” Sutton said. “There were two goals that we wanted to achieve: help local students financially so they can pursue the marine industry and bring people to the Belhaven area to support local businesses.”

Sutton said that he knew about the opportunities at Beaufort County Community College for students to start in the marine industry through programs such as boat manufacture and service.

“Helping Beaufort CCC with financial services would not only benefit the students but also could help with local employment opportunities in the area,” Sutton said. “After touring the new boat building facility, I was amazed with the state-of-the-art technology it has for the students and the hope is to market these assets for growth in the future.”

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the support that Captain Sutton and the Belhaven Trout Tournament and Festival have provided to our students,” said Serena Sullivan, VP for Institutional Advancement at Beaufort CCC. “The college has crafted programs that benefit our local industries and connect students with solid careers in our region such as the thriving marine industry, and this new scholarship can let them get their education quickly and for free.”

The college cut the ribbon on its state-of-the-art $2.08 million Boat Manufacturing Center in the center of its campus in October of 2023

The new scholarship will be available through the Beaufort County Community College Foundation and is open to any student who plans to enter the marine industry. Students must first complete a FAFSA and fill out a foundation scholarship application.