Category Archives: Fenske Fellowship

Final Thoughts: Mentorship and Representation Are Key

by: Katie Kierczynski and Sam Betances

As our time as Fenske Fellows comes to a close, we are delighted to share our insights from the Fellowship on this blog. We have really enjoyed our Fenske experience and have been very busy working on our respective projects and attending various Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR)/fisheries management meetings throughout the state. The opportunity to observe the management process from start to finish as we have gone through our Fenske experience has been an exceptional opportunity that would not have been possible without this fellowship.

We have each had the chance to participate in field work with our mentors: Sam was able to sample Lake Sturgeon in the St. Clair River, while Katie participated in the spring Lake Trout survey in Northern Lake Huron. In addition to seeing how data were collected and processed, we were able to see how the data were communicated to other fisheries professionals at Basin Team meetings, the annual biologists conference, the Lake Huron Technical Committee meeting, and the Lake Committee meeting hosted by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. Our attendance at Research Inventory Team meetings and a research section meeting showed us how data were transferred into information used to make on-the-ground decisions. New management/legislation was also discussed at many of these meetings and we were extremely excited when fish orders (i.e., proposed regulation changes) that we first learned about at the annual biologists meeting were approved at a recent Natural Resources Commission meeting.

While we have greatly enjoyed learning about the internal workings of the MDNR, our favorite part of this fellowship has been the personal connections we have made. Our agency mentors, Todd Wills, Jan-Michael Hessenauer, and Dave Fielder have all been instrumental in not only assisting our understanding of the MDNR and fisheries management, but also in connecting us with other professionals in the field. Those professionals were willing to take the time to answer questions that we had, whether the questions were about specific happenings at meetings, general insights into the MDNR and fisheries management as a whole, or even tips for interviewing. In particular, Jessica Mistak and Gary Whelan always made themselves available to us for conversations regarding navigating the job search and potential career directions, introducing us to professionals outside of the region, and showing us how to be more involved in the national AFS goings-on. We are grateful to all of the professionals who have welcomed us at the many meetings and conferences that we have attended as part of this fellowship, and especially to Kelley Smith and his wife, Molly, for the opportunity to gain so much experience in honor of Jan.

While we encountered many great mentors, both men and women, during our experience, it was inspiring to meet so many women professionals in fisheries. In our past experiences, we have had limited opportunities to have women in fisheries as mentors outside of academia. Not only were we welcomed and advised by many of these women, but we also appreciated a vision of us in their shoes in the not-too-distant future. Representation in fisheries really matters, and we are incredibly grateful for all of the women who have come before us that have allowed us this opportunity. Jan Fenske, in particular, was the first female fisheries biologist in the MDNR Fisheries Division. Her legacy lives on in the many talented women currently in the division and will be continued on to the next generation. The impact of this fellowship on our lives will not lessen over time. We look forward to using our lessons learned from this experience as future fisheries professionals and the opportunity to be future mentors to women in fisheries management.

Tying Up Loose Ends

East Lansing, Michigan

I am sad to say that my Michigan State University (MSU) Fenske Fellowship experience has come to a close. Over the last few months, I have been working with my mentors to complete my final report, which details the last two years of my experiences and accomplishments as the 2014-2015 MSU Fenske Fellow. You can read more about my fellowship accomplishments, fellowship challenges, lessons learned, and my advice for future MSU Fenske Fellows in my final report. There, you will also find a reflection of the MSU Fenske Fellowship written by my two mentors, Dr. Bill Taylor and Bob Lambe. You can also view a full list of my MSU Fenske Fellowship-related products and additional products in the other document below.

In the next few months, I will continue to wrap up a couple of related fellowship projects including an article for Fisheries magazine and a presentation about my MSU Fenske Fellowship experience as part of the MSU Graduate Student Organization Research Symposium. I will also attend and present at the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) Lake Committee Meetings in March, 2016. I hope to attend other GLFC-related meetings when possible.

Before I depart, I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to my mentors, Dr. Taylor and Bob, and all other individuals from the GLFC who welcomed me with open arms and made me feel at home within their organization. I especially thank the U.S. and Canadian Commissioners who personally interacted with me on a number of occasions. Lastly, I would like to thank Dr. Dana Infante and the rest of the MSU Fenske Fellowship Review Committee for selecting me as the 2014-2015 MSU Fenske Fellow and supporting me through this process. It has been an adventure. Cheers.

LESSON #29: Be grateful for good opportunities.

LESSON #30: Keep in touch with those who give meaning to your life!

View Molly’s final MSU Fenske Fellowship Report here.

View Molly’s MSU Fenske Fellowship-related products and additional products here.

View Molly’s article, “The MSU Fenske Fellowship: Fresh Perspectives on Fish, Management, and Law” here. This article appeared in Fisheries magazine in 2016.

Tagged , , , ,

Trout Tales, 2016

Image courtesy Dave Herasimtschuk, Freshwaters Illustrated

Recently I’ve had a flurry of Fenske Fellowship activities, all of them memorable! After returning from the holiday break on January 6, I met with Troy Zorn, Michigan DNR Fisheries Research Biologist and Fenske mentor, on campus in East Lansing. We exchanged stories of our time away from work … mine back home in Minnesota with family and friends (with an awe-inspiring Rachel Carson biography in hand), and Troy’s on a marine fishing adventure! After recounting our holiday memories, we got down to business on Fenske developments, charting a course for a busy month of Inland Trout Angler Survey (ITAS) and Inland Trout Management Plan (ITMP) work. We both acknowledged the need for a formal document describing results from the ITAS and decided to format the summary as a Research Report, DNR style. Talk about fisheries management experience! So far, the Fenske Fellowship has provided unparalleled opportunities to see the fisheries world from an applied research and management perspective.

Troy and I decided that the Research Report should transcend mere description of ITAS results. We settled on a format that will both report results and compare them to previous angler surveys, including a recent survey completed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. We believe providing context for our results will enhance the utility of the Research Report for advancing stream salmonid management. Speaking of context, our analysis of the ITAS is occurring simultaneously with development of the ITMP and with publication of a manuscript (Carlson et al. 2016) that Troy and I co-authored with Dr. William W. Taylor (my Ph.D. advisor at Michigan State University), Dr. Dana Infante (MSU), and Kelsey Schlee (M.S., 2014, MSU). In this paper we predict future stream temperatures in Michigan using coupled climate models and relate temperature to projected effects on growth and survival of brook trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout. This is timely information, given the importance of managing streams for thermal resilience in a changing climate. The connections among the ITAS, the ITMP, and this recent paper are numerous, and I gave a formal presentation on them at the recent Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, held in Grand Rapids, MI (January 24-27). Troy also gave a presentation, and we had the chance to meet and discuss our writing assignments for the ITAS and the ITMP. We’re happy to report that as of yesterday (January 31), the first draft of the Research Report is complete. 65 pages and counting, with many more interpretations, conclusions, and tables to add. We’ll keep you posted as our work on the Research Report and ITMP progresses!

Lessons learned since “The Fresh Fish of Bellaire”:

  • Context, context, context
    • Stand-alone results from social surveys are interesting, but they become truly valuable for fisheries management when researchers interpret them in the context of previous studies. The recent Wisconsin trout angler survey has provided invaluable context for understanding results of the ITAS.
  • Embrace professional networking opportunities
    • My work with Michigan DNR mentors has been rewarding and eye-opening … a wonderful supplement to my formal education on campus in East Lansing. I encourage all aspiring natural resource professionals to network with veterans of their profession. Events like the Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference provide valuable networking opportunities. But it doesn’t end there. Contact natural resource professionals in your area to learn about how to get involved. You won’t regret it!

Andrew Carlson

Tagged ,

“The Fresh Fish of Bellaire”

Just over one month after the Coldwater Resources Steering Committee (CRSC) meeting, I made another scenic journey to Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula. The destination for 12/1/15: Bellaire, home of Shanty Creek Resorts, where the 2015 Michigan DNR (MDNR) Fisheries Division Meeting took place. As soon as I walked beneath the enormous wooden entryway and sensed the unmistakable fragrance of the northwoods, I knew I was in for an enjoyable morning. I entered a cabin-like hallway replete with photographs and paintings of hunting expeditions of yesteryear. I admired the meticulous detail and impeccable accuracy of deer, ducks, and grouse, those animals of endless fascination. In a wildlife dreamland, I slowly made my way to the meeting registration table. To my surprise, there were nametags featuring clear, crisp images of common Michigan recreational fishes and bags with an embossed Michigan DNR Fisheries Division logo! Quite a professional event, I said to myself, thinking of my many undergraduate meetings with the Minnesota DNR (first as a volunteer, then as an employee) during my days at the University of Minnesota. The stage was set for a memorable meeting.

The meeting featured sessions for various Committees of the MDNR, including the Trout Committee, where I presented full results from the 2015 Inland Trout Angler Survey. Whereas my talk at the CRSC focused on differences between angling group members and non-members in Michigan streams, in this presentation (PDF:CRSC_TroutCommtalk) I characterized the factors that drive typical, “overall” anglers to fish streams and inland lakes for brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, lake trout, and splake. I discussed anglers’ responses to a wide range of questions, including those related to angling experience, fishing trip planning, stream and lake selection factors, harvest and tackle use patterns, and overall satisfaction with trout management in Michigan. I was grateful to hear from managers that I provided the details they sought, information that will help us understand the values, attitudes, and behaviors of public stakeholders as we develop a statewide management plan for inland trout. Another incredible Fenske Fellowship experience!

It has been highly rewarding to see that my research is relevant for fisheries managers. As I reflect on my Fenske Fellowship experiences thus far, four lessons come to mind:

  1. Know your audience
    • A professional presentation is valuable in proportion to how effectively a speaker communicates with his/her audience. In transitioning from my first to second presentation, I made a more conscious effort to consider my audience (i.e., salmonid managers) and the specific information they desired. I am certain this improved the quality of my second talk.
  2. Speak with passion, confidence, and creativity
    • In my experience, professional talks represent outstanding opportunities to channel personal enthusiasm toward effective scientific communication. Speak with your heart, and good things will happen!
  3. Address questions with honesty and an open mind
    • At the Trout Committee meeting I received a thought-provoking question about the degree to which my sample population (N = 4,161) accurately represented Michigan trout anglers. Knowing that survey respondents were typically male, age 50-65, and members of angling groups (and invariably provided their emails after purchasing licenses), I responded to this question to the effect that my sample population was not fully representative. To expect a completely representative population is unrealistic, but it is important to acknowledge the inherent biases in a survey and transparently communicate these to audiences at professional meetings.
  4. Learn and have fun!
    • The MDNR fisheries community is a wonderful group of passionate scientists, managers, and biologists who care deeply about the health of aquatic resources within and outside Michigan. Collectively (and in many cases individually), these fisheries professionals are a walking encyclopedia of information. For a Ph.D. student like myself, networking with the MDNR fisheries community is an incredible extracurricular experience. I’ve learned facts about fisheries research and management that no amount of classroom instruction could provide. And I’ve had lots of fun!
      • In a festive, holiday-themed room, members of the Michigan DNR Trout Committee discuss results of the 2015 Inland Trout Angler Survey after my presentation.

        Trout Committee

Tagged