TEEN OF THE WEEK
Manheim Central senior is at home in the outdoors BY JOAN KERN, Correspondent
Manheim Central High School senior Skyler Becker is an outdoorsman.
He began fishing while in diapers, then hunting at age 12, as soon as he was old enough to take a hunter safety course. He ties his own flies, and he and his dad butcher the deer they bag.
"I love hunting and fishing," he says. "That's my passion."
And he's been playing baseball for so long that he can't remember when he began.
Becker, 18, of Manheim, finds it difficult to sit in class and listen to a lecture.
He prefers welding, which he was introduced to in a shop class his junior year at Manheim Central. The teacher recognized he had an innate talent and suggested he check out the Lancaster County Career and Technology Center in Mount Joy.
In August, he began studying there full time.
Last month, he won third place in welding in a Vocational Clubs of America competition at the Muhlenberg (Berks County) CTC.
"It's something I enjoy," he says. "I come to school and enjoy what I do. It's much better than sitting in a chair and listening to someone."
On his birthday, Jan. 15, he began an Advanced Placement internship as a welder for Sanitary Process Systems Inc. in Lititz. Only top students, with excellent attendance, skills, grades and recommendations, qualify for the program.
Becker is a member of the National Technical Honor Society and has a 4.0 grade-point average at CTC. From ninth through 11th grades, he was a member of MCHS's Envirothon Club, studying animal tracks and identifying leaves, among other outdoors-related activities. His junior year, he enrolled in a combined math and art class, fishing for two hours every day and keeping a tally of the fish he caught. He took a photograph of each one and fashioned a collage of the photographs on the silhouette of a bass.
After graduation, he may enroll in a technical school or work at SPS or do both. He's undecided.
But before that, Becker, at 6-foot-2 and 160 pounds, has one more season of baseball for the Manheim Central Barons. Formerly a pitcher, he had to sit out his sophomore year, his first year on the varsity team, after surgery for a torn bicep tendon.
"I went to all the practices and games even though I couldn't play," he says. "The whole team gets along really well. They're all my friends."
Since his surgery, he has played second or third base. The team keeps him in touch with the school and the friends he left behind when he transferred to the CTC.
"It was a hard decision," says Becker, who was born and raised in Manheim and grew up in the school district. "But overall, I'm glad I decided to go to CTC."
He is the son of Bill and Becky Becker, and has a twin sister, Miranda, and a brother, Wyatt, 10. The teen plays on the men's softball team at St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Manheim and is a member of St. Paul's Sparks Caf' youth group.
He and his father raise bobwhite quail, ringneck pheasant and eastern wild turkeys. "I love it," he says.
They hunt for deer, turkey, fox, pheasants, groundhogs and squirrel, and they eat all but the fox -- "We sell the pelts to fur takers" -- and the groundhogs -- "We shoot them as a favor to the farmer," he says of the destructive species. Squirrels, he says, taste like greasy chicken.
He hunts on local farms, with permission, and at a camp in Orbisonia, Huntingdon County, owned by his paternal grandparents, Bill and Marcine Becker of Manheim.
At age 12, he shot a jake (a juvenile male turkey). In his hunting career, he has bagged a three-point buck, a spike (two antlers) and three does.
In August, he fishes at Cape Coral, Fla., where his maternal grandparents, Michael and Brenda Lehman, of Manheim, live half the year. Locally, he fishes at ponds and on the Susquehanna River.
"A friend and I fixed up an old boat," he said. "We make a day of it (on the river). I'm a nature lover."