Redefining the Classroom

Fisheries and Wildlife Club members gain recognition, awards

Posted: June 14th, 2006

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. -- Lake Superior State University's student Fisheries and Wildlife Club made a name for itself during professional conferences held in Michigan during the past academic year.

Eighteen students attended the Michigan Chapter of the American Fisheries Society meeting in Lansing last spring, with eight of them presenting their LSSU research in oral and poster presentations. In addition, the club was approved as an official student chapter of the AFS.

"This makes LSSU the first and only student chapter in the state," said Ashley Moerke, associate professor of biology at LSSU. "In addition, former club president Billy Keiper, of Stalwart, served as a student representative to the Michigan American Fisheries Society's executive committee."

Ben Rook, a recent fisheries and wildlife graduate from Holt, received the "Best Student Presentation" award during the meeting for his research on Atlantic salmon reproduction.

BEST PRESENTATION -- LSSU's Ben Rook, who graduated in May, received an award for Best Student Presentation during the most recent meeting of the Michigan Chapter of the American Fisheries Society in Lansing. (LSSU Photo by John Shibley)

"This is a great achievement," Moerke said. "This was a scientific presentation at a regional meeting with more than a dozen student presenters, many of whom were graduate students."

Rook, who was also named LSSU's Outstanding Fisheries and Wildlife Graduate in April, recently had his senior thesis published with LSSU Prof. Marshall Werner in the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

Nearly 30 LSSU students and some of their faculty advisors attended the 66th annual Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference in Grand Rapids earlier in the academic year. The annual conference, one of the oldest natural resource management conferences in North America, was attended by nearly 1,000 fisheries and wildlife professionals from around the Midwest.

Moerke said the students participated in an all-day undergraduate workshop that covered topics on preparing for careers in the field of fisheries and wildlife resources and included writing resumes and networking. The students also attended research talks throughout the meeting and social events in the evening, interacting with the region's fisheries and wildlife managers who were sharing their latest research findings and concerns. Ten concurrent sessions on fisheries and wildlife topics covered studies on cormorants, tribal fisheries management, Lake Huron's recent food web transformation and impact on fisheries, wildlife population dynamics, hunter recruitment and retention, amphibian and reptile conservation and management, and more. Moerke presented some of her own research in the conference's Stream Restoration Symposium.

"The AFS meeting was a very rewarding and educational experience for me," said Dyllin Patrick of Sault Ste. Marie, one of the students who attended. "It truly opened my eyes to the opportunities that await me after graduation."

Two LSSU students, Michael Buelow of Allen and Kandi Schnurer of Sault Ste. Marie, were among 20 students who received the first Janice Fenske Memorial Award at the conference. The two were the only undergraduate students to receive the award, which was named after the 27-year DNR fisheries veteran biologist who died in March 2005.

"All in all, these conferences provide another example of how our students are excelling and setting themselves apart from other programs throughout the Midwest," Moerke said. "At the meetings, we consistently received compliments on the students' professionalism, interest and experience."

Gary Whelan, Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources Fisheries Production Manager, is one of several state fisheries professionals who works with LSSU students and faculty, and was one of those who expressed admiration for the students representing LSSU at the conference.

"Many of us have been very impressed by the quality of work and zeal shown by the fine young biologists you are training," Whelan said. "You folks are doing a very good job and it is appreciated. It is great that you are bringing many of the students to professional meetings. They are providing a fine image of your university."

The Fisheries and Wildlife Club students paid for attendance at both conferences through fundraising events such as its popular fish dinners held in the Cisler Center throughout the year. –LSSU-