My name is Erin Tracy and I am a master’s student in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University working with Dr. Dana Infante in the Aquatic Landscape Ecology lab. Since graduating Guilford College with a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Science I have pursued my passion for environmental field work across the country. Some of my work experience includes hiking in the desert to monitor endangered Sage Grouse habitat for the BLM in Nevada, wading through streams to monitor endangered salmon for the Marin Water District in California and rafting the Green and Colorado rivers to monitor fish populations for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Utah.
I am thrilled and honored to be this year’s recipient of the Fenske Fellowship. Janice Lee Fenske had a tireless passion for protecting our aquatic resources and shared that passion with everyone she mentored. I have been very fortunate to have some incredible mentors in life who have been instrumental in shaping my career path and my personal growth in the natural resource management field. Most recently, my advisor Dr. Dana Infante has provided guidance and support since my first day at MSU. While discussing my interests in the fisheries field, she encouraged me to apply for the Fenske Fellowship. Through the fellowship, I was given the opportunity to meet and build quality relationships with two new mentors; Joe Nohner, a coordinator at the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership (MGLP) and MSU graduate, and Gary Whelan, a fisheries project manager at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR).
As a Fenske Fellow, I will uphold the mission and values set by Janice Fenske in protecting our aquatic resources through working on a high priority project with the MDNR and the MGLP. With the guidance of my mentors I will be creating a process for evaluating the successful development and implementation of a decision support tool the MGLP is developing to aid in managing and restoring lakes throughout the Midwest. This project will allow me to gain a deeper understanding of how managers are currently using decision support tools and if we can better tailor them to management needs through evaluation and incorporation of user feedback. Additionally, the Fenske Fellowship will provide a firsthand look at the inner workings of the MDNR, new skill development, and the opportunity to make valuable connections with the Midwest natural resource management community.
I am really excited to begin this project and will keep you updated on my progress!