Category Archives: Lake Committee Meetings

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 , , , ,

Bichirs are Bizarre

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Lake Committee Meetings: Round 2

I drove from East Lansing to Ann Arbor, Michigan this week to attend part of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) Lake Committee Meetings for a second time as a Fenske Fellow. If you are interested in reading a fuller description of what goes on during the Lake Committee Meeting, please refer to “Law and Order and Fish.”

Law Enforcement Committee Mid-Annual Meeting

As you may recall, the Law Enforcement Committee holds its mid-annual meeting during the Lake Committee Meeting. The Law Enforcement Committee often organizes a training or workshop to correspond with their meeting as a way to build skills and increase proficiencies among the committee members. This week, the committee organized an invasive species training at the University of Michigan. The objective of the training was to instruct the committee members on the proper identification of common aquatic invasive fish species that can occur, or are expected to occur, in the Great Lakes Basin. As anyone who has taken an ichthyology class knows, fish identification is often difficult because many fish species look familiar (especially at a young age!). Our training leader, Dr. Kevin Wehrly (Michigan Department of Natural Resources), laid out several preserved aquatic invasive species for us to touch and observe. We were also given books and short summaries to read that provided helpful identification information. Though the carp species were relatively easy to identify, I had difficulty differentiating among the rudd, goldfish, and more common golden shiner. I particularly enjoyed observing the snakehead. In this training, the snakehead was contrasted with a bichir or reedfish, which is native to Africa and the Nile River.

5

Can you identify the species? (From T to B) Northern snakehead (Channa argus), bowfin (Amia calva), and a bichir or reedfish (Polypteridae). Photo credit: Molly J. Good

After the training, Doug Nelson, the Collection Manager at the University of Michigan’s Museum of Zoology (UMMZ), gave us a tour of the facility. The UMMZ maintains incredible zoological collections for use in research, outreach, and education. According to the UMMZ website, the collections (P.S., Can you find me on the homepage?) include about 15 million specimens total, comprised of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles, fishes (3.3 million specimens, representing 90% of all orders!), mollusks, mites, and insects.

6

The view down one of the hallways in the University of Michigan’s Museum of Zoology Collections facility. Photo credit: Molly J. Good

7

Reptile specimens! Photo credit: Molly J. Good

8

The results of my aquatic invasive species identification quiz. I think I got a 100%! Photo credit: Molly J. Good

LESSON #15: If it is difficult for fisheries scientist to identify a fish, then it probably even more difficult for a member of the general public to identify a fish.

LESSON #16: Workshops and trainings are essential in building skills and improving proficiencies.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Law and Order and Fish

Windsor, Ontario

Lake Committee Meetings: Round 1

From Tuesday, March 25 through Thursday, March 26, I attended the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) Lake Committee Meetings in Windsor, Ontario. The Lake Committee Meetings primarily serve as a forum for fishery management agencies to come together and assess the state of fish communities, discuss Great Lakes issues, and plan for future management activities. Many of these meetings are open to the public.

Law Enforcement Committee Mid-Annual Meeting

The GLFC Law Enforcement Committee holds their mid-annual meeting during the Lake Committee Meetings. The Law Enforcement Committee helps facilitate coordinated fishery management through A Joint Strategic Plan for Management of Great Lakes Fisheries. The committee is charged with protecting, enhancing, and promoting the safe use of natural resources in the Great Lakes Basin. Mark Robbins (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources) is the current chair of the Law Enforcement Committee. The committee is uniquely composed of representatives from each natural resource agency with enforcement power in the Great Lakes Basin, including the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, and others.

As a disclaimer, private, undisclosed information is frequently discussed during the Law Enforcement Committee Meeting. Therefore, it is impossible for me to share all of my observations and reflections from this meeting with you. I can share that I was most interested in a presentation regarding a new concept for standardizing collected data and information across all natural resource agencies in the basin. Apparently, each natural resource agency has their own, individual methodology for collecting, organizing, and storing their enforcement data. As a result, it can be difficult for natural resource agencies and enforcement officers to locate helpful data from other agency data and information systems. A more standardized system, used by all natural resource agencies, would likely be easier to navigate and work with across multiple jurisdictions.

LESSON #4: The GLFC Law Enforcement Committee Meetings are critical because they bring together enforcement officers from all natural resource agencies in the Great Lakes Basin.

Tagged , , ,