Tag Archives: Secretariat

From the Blake to the Drake

Chicago, Illinois

Evidently there are two “Great Lakes” Commissions. One is the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC). Did you know about that one? Hehe. The other is the Great Lakes Commission, which promotes the integrated and comprehensive development, use, and conservation of water resources (though they address fisheries issues, too!). Well, the Great Lakes Commission celebrated its 60th anniversary this week in Chicago, Illinois. The Commission invited the GLFC Commissioners and Secretariat to join the celebrations and participate in joint discussions with a focus on invasive species, nutrient reduction, and waterfront revitalization. The Great Lakes Commission sponsored a reception at the Shedd Aquarium that evening with excellent food and wonderful company. I had a blast connecting with members from BOTE and SLRB and some of the Commissioners.

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Our meeting room at the Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago, Illinois. Photo credit: Molly J. Good

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Bob Hecky (Canadian Commissioner) and Dr. Bill Taylor (U.S. Alternate Commissioner) discuss something important. Photo credit: Molly J. Good

The GLFC held a separate Executive Meeting on the second day of anniversary meeting. There, we discussed a few more loose ends from our Executive Meeting in June regarding the strategic evaluation of the GLFC vision. This project is coming to a close.

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A beautiful photo of the downtown skyline from the Shedd Aquarium. Photo credit: Molly J. Good

LESSON #27: It is not easy to have a conference call on a party bus.

LESSON #28: If you are in a party bus and you look hard enough, you will find beer.

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My Moment

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Annual Meeting

This was a good Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) Annual Meeting for me. For a couple of reasons…

At the Executive Meeting session of the Annual Meeting, I provided some materials for and made a presentation to the Commissioners (eek!) and Secretariat detailing the work that was completed during our GLFC Retreat in April. I plan to write up the retreat materials and major findings into a manuscript for the GLFC to have and include in its progress report.

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The Commissioner’s Table at the GLFC Annual Meeting Plenary Session. (From L to R) Tom Melius, Trevor Swerdfager, Bill Taylor, Don Pereira, Bob Hecky, Tracey Mill, Doug Stang, and Jim McCain. Dave Ullrich, not pictured. Photo credit: Nick Ebinger

In other news, over the last year, Bob Lambe, Dr. Bill Taylor, and I have been working on the development of an endowment to create a fellowship for a graduate student working on fisheries research in the Great Lakes Basin. This endowment was intended to be supported jointly by the GLFC and the Graduate School at Michigan State University. Because the paperwork for this endowment was finalized just before the Annual Meeting, Dr. Karen Klomparens, the Dean of the Graduate School at Michigan State University, was invited to announce this endowment and fellowship at the Annual Meeting Luncheon. As Dr. Karen Klomparens finish her comments, she mentioned that the first recipient of this fellowship had already been selected. Uh, cue confusion on my part because no one had told me about a fellowship recipient – and I wrote the fellowship language! Dr. Karen Klomparens continued with her closing comments, and announced that I would be the first recipient of the William W. Taylor and Henry A. Regier Great Lakes Fisheries Graduate Fellowship. Needless to say, I had a great night of celebrating with the GLFC at The B.O.B. (The Big Old Building) in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

LESSON #20: Persistence pays off.

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Charter Fishing with the Commission

Grand Haven, Michigan

To kickoff this year’s Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) Annual Meeting, I organized a charter fishing trip in Lake Michigan for GLFC Commissioners and Secretariat members. This trip was intended to be a fun outing, but also an opportunity for people to connect and network. Thus, a group of us arrived in Grand Haven, Michigan for dinner at Jack’s Waterfront Bistro and Bar on Tuesday, June 9, 2015.

Early on Wednesday morning, I drove to Grand Isle Marina in Grand Haven, Michigan to help out with charter boat assignments. We reserved five boats for a total of twenty-five fishers. As I mentioned, these fishers were either Commissioners, Secretariat members, or individuals we invited in order to build the GLFC network.

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Some of the fishers assembling at Grand Isle Marina in Grand Haven, Michigan. (From L to R) Bob Lambe, Don Pereira, Bill Demmer (Demmer Corporation), and Fred Posten (MSU). Photo credit: Molly J. Good

I was assigned to Captain Rob Tabiadon’s charter, Tab’s Sportfishing Charters, with Don Pereira (U.S. Commissioner), Dr. Jim Diana (University of Michigan, Dr. Andrew Muir (GLFC), and Dr. Mike Siefkes (GLFC). When you fish out of Grand Haven, it takes some time to move the charter boat from Grand Isle Marine, through the channel, out into Lake Michigan. Let me set the stage: there is fog everywhere. Deep fog. So, about ten minutes into our trip, Tab’s gets lost. Our progress was looking really grim, until Don pulled out “GoogleMaps” on his iPhone! With Don’s help, Tab’s was finally able to get us into the lake! Three hours and three fish later, we headed back to the marina (no fog this time, so our trip was easy).

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Don Pereira helping Captain Ron Tabiadon steer us out of the channel. Photo credit: Molly J. Good

All five boats came back with a serious haul of fish.

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My first and only catch of the day, a nice Chinook or King salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Photo credit: Andrew Muir

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Andrew Muir reeling in a Chinook salmon. Photo credit: Molly J. Good

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Mike Siefkes posing with his lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush). Photo credit: Molly J. Good

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A treasured photo – me with my two mentors, Dr. Bill Taylor (L) and Bob Lambe (R). Photo credit: Ted Lawrence

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Mentors in action. Photo credit: Molly J. Good

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Perhaps a gruesome photo to some of you, but this was just a part of our damage between five charter boats. Photo credit: Molly J. Good

2015 Annual Fishing Crew - T. Lawrence

The fishing crew! Photo credit: Ted Lawrence

After cleaning and processing the fish, and taking a few group pictures, we headed to Old Boys’ Brewhouse in Spring Lake, Michigan. There, we had an incredible feast of cooked fish, coleslaw, French fries, onion rings, and other goodies.

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When there is food around, I am unaware of the camera. Photo credit: Ted Lawrence

After our lunch, I drove Bob Lambe (GLFC) and Dr. Bill Taylor (MSU) to our hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan to prepare for the Annual Meeting. Talk about some precious cargo.

LESSON #20: Boat captains can get lost, too.

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Retreat to Reflect

Ann Arbor, Michigan

GLFC Commissioners and Secretariat Retreat

This week, I helped gather the Commissioners and Secretariat together at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens facility at the University of Michigan to hold a retreat. The objective of this retreat was to continue discussions about the evolution of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) as an organization. The Commissioners and Secretariat recognized that it is best to discuss an evolution of the GLFC in the context of the Convention of Great Lakes Fisheries. The 1955 Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries established the GLFC as an organization with a mission to work across borders to combat sea lampreys, promote science, and establish working relationships among natural resource agencies and personnel. Today, the Convention still guides the GLFC, thus, discussing the evolution of the GLFC based on the actual language and meaning of the Convention was critical.

As a participant in this retreat, I can say that we put in a tremendous about of reflection and thoughtfulness into this retreat. And, as an organizer of this retreat, I can say that I captured a lot of insightful information that, if accepted and implemented, will help the Commission evolve.

LESSON #18: You do not have to know a lot about something to have something worthwhile to contribute.

LESSON #19: Sometimes there is conflict in a group. It is okay if there is conflict, as long as voices on both sides of that conflict are heard.

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Déjà Vu

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Board of Technical Experts Meeting: Pre-Proposals, Round 2

Well, folks, it is a new year and a new set of BOTE and SLRB meetings. Are they getting old yet, you might ask? You mean the long days, hours upon hours of listening and asking questions and making important decisions? Heck no, I love this stuff.

What a difference a year makes. Now, I know everyone in the room by their name and affiliation. I am no longer brand new to the process of discussing and reviewing proposals, which has allowed me to pay attention to bigger and better things. For example, instead of trying to figure out what a siscowet is (FYI, it is one of the three morphotypes or forms of lake trout in Lake Superior, and it is distinguished from the others because of its physical characteristics and presence in deep-water), I am making connections between climate change, hybridization, and siscowets.

So, you know the drill. If you are interested in reading a fuller description of what goes on during the winter BOTE meeting, please refer to “Fenske Firsts.”

This week, Bob Lambe (GLFC), Dr. Bill Taylor (MSU), and I had a long discussion about my involvement in a couple of projects related to my Fenske Fellowship work. First, we are all interested in raising the profile law enforcement as an important fisheries management tool. Working with the Law Enforcement Committee directly, I plan to submit a symposium for the 145th American Fisheries Society (AFS) Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon. This symposium will bring together law enforcement officers and fisheries managers representing all sectors to discuss the importance of law enforcement in ensuring fisheries sustainability. Symposium abstracts are due in March 2015, so I will be working closely with Bob Lambe, Dr. Bill Taylor, and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) on abstract submissions. Second, as I mentioned in the last blog post, I will be assisting the GLFC in conducting a strategic evaluation of their organization’s vision and mission. Bob Lambe, Dr. Taylor, and I plan to work with a facilitator from Michigan State University (MSU), John Beck, to help conduct this evaluation with the Commissioners and Secretariat.

In other news, Julie Hinderer (Sea Lamprey Research Program Associate) and I teamed up once again to challenge Dr. Mike Jones (MSU) and Dr. Stu Ludsin (THE OSU) to an intense Euchre game. Boys won. Boo. 

Sea Lamprey Research Board Meeting: Full Proposals, Round 2

From Thursday, March 5 to Friday, March 6, 2015, I attended my second round of SLRB meetings. If you are interested in reading a fuller description of what goes on during the winter SLRB meeting, please refer to “Fenske Firsts.”

I should mention that today is my birthday. I guess I am a little sad that I have spent the past two birthdays of mine with the SLRB instead of with my family or friends, but this is real life. Actually, to be completely honest, this birthday was pretty special. Some of the readers may know that I greatly admire Dr. Steve Cooke (Carleton University) as a huge fisheries researcher role model in my life. Well, today he sang “Happy Birthday” to me. Julie Hinderer and Jess Ives (Program Associates) also presented me with a piece of cake. It was so awesome.

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My special slice of birthday cake. Cheers to 26! Photo credit: Molly J. Good

LESSON #11: Be adaptable.

LESSON #12: Appreciate constructive criticism.

LESSON #13: Seek mentors that both support and challenge you.

LESSON #14: The only real way to learn about how science is used to inform management and policy decisions is to immerse oneself in the process.

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Executive Status

Rochester, New York

Interim Meeting

My Fenske Fellow status snagged me an invitation to the exclusive, ultra-private, top-secret Great Lakes Fishery Commission’s (GLFC) Interim Meeting, usually held in December of every year. Actually, this meeting is not that top-secret, but it is private, for it is a time when the Commissioners and Secretariat come together to select research topics of high importance to the GLFC and to plan strategically for the future.

Though I cannot elaborate fully on the topic, the Commissioners were particularly interested discussing the GLFC’s preparedness for and ability to address future, emerging fisheries management issues under its current structure. Bob Lambe and Dr. Taylor were both interested in exploring this topic more, as was I. We plan to meet together soon to discuss my role in facilitating conversations about this topic among Commissioners and Secretariat members.

LESSON #10: Opportunities are everywhere. Take advantage of them.

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We Like, We Like to Party

La Crosse, Wisconsin

Sea Lamprey Research Board Meeting: Full Proposals, Round 1

Look familiar? Yes! More SLRB. This meeting though, is a bit different from the winter SLRB meeting. For instance, there are zero presentations during the fall meeting. Instead, SLRB uses this meeting to discuss the peer reviews of full proposals and make decisions about which research projects should be more likely to receive funding.

I should mention that, as a participant in these meetings, I receive a Briefing Book ahead of time that includes copies of the full proposals up for discussion. Reading the full proposals before the meeting begins helped me prepare for the peer review discussion. In that discussion, I learned a lot about how to effectively write a “good” scientific proposal. The comments made by SLRB are incredibly insightful and, while not always positive, are at least constructive. This week, I learned that a clear hypothesis and objective(s), strong rationale for the research needs, a realistic and well-outlined budget, and proper grammar and spelling (cringe) are exceptional characteristics of a “good” scientific proposal.

After the discussion of the peer reviews of full proposals, the SLRB core group met privately to develop their final recommendations for full proposals.

Board of Technical Experts Meeting: Full Proposals, Round 1

And, more BOTE! Again, BOTE is similar to SLRB, but this time, the core group and members-at-large discuss the peer reviews of full proposals and make decisions about which research projects should be more likely to receive funding. After the discussion of peer reviews of full proposals, the BOTE core group meets privately to develop their final recommendations for full proposals.

Some additional observations:

I am beginning to really get to know people and to distinguish some great personalities in the SLRB and BOTE groups. I feel very included in each group, and I appreciate that people are interested in who I am and what I do. I am confident that my network is growing.

Also, these people really know how to shut down a hotel bar! Just kidding. But really, these groups are fun. We spent a lot our evenings this past week sharing memories, discussing cool research stories, and playing a lot of Euchre. I fear that Julie Hinderer (Sea Lamprey Research Program Associate) and I have started a fierce Euchre tradition at the BOTE meeting, in particular. We played on a team against Dr. Mike Jones (MSU) – who plays Canadian rules, go figure – and Dr. Stu Ludsin (THE OSU) – enemy (just kidding) – and battled for glory. Girls won this time, and I think we are all ready for a rematch next winter.

LESSON #8: Socialize with the people you are working with, for this is how to make long-lasting connections.

LESSON #9: Make good use of hotel bars because A LOT can get accomplished there.

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Progress at the Palmer House

Chicago, Illinois

Annual Meeting

Each summer, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) holds its Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting is probably the highlight of the GLFC meeting schedule because it showcases the successes and progress the GLFC has made over the past year. Thus, the Annual Meeting is full of back-to-back presentations detailing a variety of topics, mainly completed projects, interesting and relevant research project results, and innovative ideas and concepts for future research projects.

There is usually an Executive Meeting and Luncheon at each Annual Meeting. The Executive Meeting is normally open to Commissioners and Secretariat members only, though I was able to attend (because of my Fenske Fellow status, I have received admittance into many of these private meetings!). During this meeting, the Secretariat members give brief presentations on the status of each of the programs they manage to the Commissioners. For example, Dr. Marc Gaden (Communications Director and Legislative Liaison) gave a presentation on outreach and education events sponsored by the GLFC in the past year. Dr. John Dettmers (Director of Fisheries Management) gave a presentation on the status of the GLFC Fishery Research Program.

The Palmer House Hilton Chicago is breathtaking! While I was there, I used my time at the Annual Meeting to meet individually with Bob Lambe (GLFC) and Dr. Bill Taylor (MSU) to discuss my experiences with the GLFC thus far. I expressed to them that my involvement in meetings such as this one has helped me gain a better understanding of the structure and function of the Commission. One of the highlights of this trip was a special reception at the Shedd Aquarium in downtown Chicago, Illinois. I had a wonderful evening eating good food and watching the dolphins swim.

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Beautiful view of the ceiling in the Palmer House Hilton lobby. Photo credit: Molly J. Good

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The dolphin pool at the Shedd Aquarium at night. Photo credit: Molly J. Good

My status as Fenske Fellow does not officially begin until September of this year. Therefore, I have been grateful for the opportunities to learn about the GLFC through observation and active participation in these meetings. I am looking forward to developing the relationships I have made with the GLFC Secretariat, U.S. and Canadian Commissioners, and the Law Enforcement Committee.

LESSON #5: It is important to ask questions, because that is how you learn. It also helps in making new connections.

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Fenske “Firsts”

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Nerves

If you had asked me, Molly J. Good, how I was feeling on Monday, March 3, 2014 I would have said, “underprepared and very – actually, no – extremely nervous.” Monday, March 3, 2014 was the day before my first encounter with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) and set of GLFC meetings.

On Tuesday morning, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I sheepishly walked into a meeting room and observed an arrangement of long tables and many people, each situated appropriately behind individual name cards. Fortunately, two familiar faces stood out to me. I recognized Dr. Bill Taylor, my graduate advisor at Michigan State University, and my Fenske Fellowship “mentor,” Bob Lambe, Executive Secretary of the GLFC. It was then that my initial nerves transformed into a sense of curiosity and excitement about this new experience. I was eager to learn…

The GLFC

The GLFC was first established by the Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries between the U.S. and Canada (more on that in “Retreat to Reflect”) in 1955. It is composed of eight Commissioners – four from the U.S. and four from Canada – and there is one U.S. Alternate Commissioner, a position filled by Dr. Bill Taylor (Table 1). The President appoints U.S. Commissioners for six-year terms. The Privy Council appoints the Canadian Commissioners, who serve at the Council’s pleasure.

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The Commission’s main responsibilities include the development and conduction of research in the Great Lakes Basin, the maximum sustained productivity of fish stocks, and the implementation of research programs to eradicate or minimize sea lamprey.

The GLFC Secretariat

The GLFC runs on the power of a Secretariat staff located at the main GLFC office in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Secretariat is relatively small, composed of approximately twenty-five individuals that serve as the interface between the GLFC and those with whom the GLFC frequently interacts.

Thus far, I have been appreciative of my interactions with many Secretariat members, including Bob Lambe (Executive Secretary), Dr. John Dettmers (Director of Fisheries Management), Dr. Marc Gaden (Communications Director and Legislative Liaison), Dr. Chris Goddard (Policy Advisor), Ted Lawrence (Communications and Policy Associate), Dr. Andrew Muir (Science Director), Kevin Ramsey (Law Enforcement Specialist), Dr. Mike Siefkes (Sea Lamprey Control Program Manager), Jill Wingfield (Communications Program Manager), and Nick Ebinger, Leah Gerweck, Julie Hinderer, and Jess Ives (Program Associates).

Board of Technical Experts Meeting: Pre-Proposals, Round 1

…So, from Tuesday, March 4 – Wednesday, March 5, 2014 I joined the Board of Technical Experts (BOTE, for short) for their winter meeting. BOTE is a group of individuals that, broadly, advise the GLFC about scientific and technical matters relevant to the Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries. This group of individuals is led by a chair, Dr. Bill Taylor, and divided into a Core Group and Members-at-Large. The core group is composed of five or more members and the members-at-large, which are term-appointed, include individuals who lead key research themes.

BOTE has a critical role to play in the solicitation, review, and approval/disapproval of fishery research proposals submitted to the GLFC Fishery Research Program. In March of every year, members of BOTE convene to hear oral presentations of fishery research program pre-proposals and, through consensus, make decisions about which fishery research pre-proposals should be advanced as full proposals in the future.

The BOTE meeting was long and intense.

The majority of the first day was set aside for pre-proposal presentations. Each presenter – whether it was a student, fisheries biologist, academic, fisheries manager, etc. – had 20 minutes to pitch their research plan to BOTE in hopes of securing funding for their proposed project. Some of this meeting’s pre-proposal research topics ranged from measuring policy success and quantifying quagga mussel populations to developing smartphone apps and analyzing warming effects on yellow perch recruitment. By the end of the first day, I had a better idea of the breadth and scope of fisheries research occurring throughout the Great Lakes Basin.

The second day of the BOTE meeting was reserved for discussion among BOTE members only. BOTE members discussed their comments and shared feedback on the pre-proposals that were heard on the day prior. These comments and feedback were collected in the meeting minutes, and they will be provided to the presenter to encourage them to modify or improve their pre-proposals for a future submission. I was particularly engaged in the discussion component of the meeting because BOTE members were not afraid to share their true feelings and opinions; there was a lot of conversation. After this period of discussion, the BOTE core group assembled to make a final selection of those pre-proposals they wished to see advance as full proposals. The final selection of pre-proposals was much more quantitative than I had originally imagined; the core group used an index (i.e., the Ciborowski Index), created by one of the current BOTE core group members, to mathematically rank each pre-proposal based on the collected comments and feedback. Cool, huh? Once the pre-proposals had been ranked as moving forward, the core group organized a peer review process for each full proposal; three BOTE members were assigned as leaders or readers to provide more feedback for each full proposal.

Sea Lamprey Research Board Meeting: Pre-Proposals, Round 1

From Thursday, March 6 (my birthday!) to Friday, March 7, 2014 I joined the Sea Lamprey Research Board (SLRB, for short) for their winter meeting. SLRB is similar to BOTE, and is a group of individuals that, broadly, advise the GLFC scientific and technical matters relevant to the GLFC Sea Lamprey Research Program. This group is also led by a chair, Dr. Steve Cooke (Carleton University), and divided into a Core Group and Members-at-Large. The SLRB core group is composed of eight or more members and the members-at-large, which are also term-appointed, include individuals who are directors of sea lamprey research units and lead key research themes.

The SLRB and BOTE meeting formats are the same. Therefore, the majority of the first day was set aside for more pre-proposal presentations. This meeting’s pre-proposal research topics ranged from sea lamprey pheromone structure and evaluation of downstream passage designs to sea lamprey genome information and effects of lampricides on target and non-target species.

As in the BOTE meeting, the second day of the SLRB meeting was reserved for discussion among SLRB members. The SLRB core group assembled to make a final selection of those pre-proposals they wished to see advance as full proposals. The core group used the Ciborowski Index to rank each pre-proposal based on the collected comments and feedback. The core group also assigned SLRB members (i.e., leaders and readers) to each full proposal for the peer review process.

LESSON #1: The GLFC is a complex organization, with many people, parts, and functions.

LESSON #2: In my opinion, the process outlined for investigators (i.e., students, fisheries biologists, academics, fisheries managers, etc.) who wish to seek funding from the GLFC for their research projects is clear and transparent.

LESSON #3: In my opinion, BOTE and SLRB put a tremendous amount of time and thoughtfulness into providing constructive feedback on each pre-proposal, and their final, ranked decisions are fair.

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