Redefining the Classroom

LSSU fisheries expertise helps UP sportsmen's club

Posted: October 28th, 2008

CONTACT: John Shibley, e-mail, 906-635-2314; Tom Pink, e-mail, 635-2315; Geoff Steinhart, e-mail, 635-2093

By Student Writer and Photographer Nick Vitale
LSSU Fisheries and Wildlife Management

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Good things happen when the interests of scientists and sportsmen overlap. At least that's what the Hiawatha Sportsmen's Club (HSC) and Lake Superior State University's fisheries and wildlife management program have discovered with a collaboration that's going into a sixth year.

The two are working together to improve the quality of HSC land and water holdings across 35,000 acres in eastern Mackinac County. The private club, formed in 1927, boasts three trout ponds, a wilderness-secluded golf course, exclusive access along Lakes Michigan and Millecoquins, as well as a nature and historical museum. It approached LSSU's biology department in 2003 for advice on how to inventory and best manage its resources.

APPLIED PIKE – Lake Superior State University fisheries student Doug Galvas (Mayville, Mich.), left, and his professor Geoff Steinhart prepare to tag a northern pike as part of an ongoing project with Hiawatha Sportsmen's Club, which has a 35,000-acre reserve in the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Galvas is doing his senior thesis research on using northern pike to control the population of yellow perch in HSC lakes. (Photo by Nick Vitale)

A print-resolution photo can be found here.

The partnership has blossomed into a continuing hands-on learning opportunity for LSSU students who are doing senior thesis projects, taking class field trips, and gaining practical experiences for the university's Fisheries and Wildlife Club. The relationship consolidated itself even more in 2006 when HSC created a scholarship for students who display academic excellence and participate in projects on club lands.

Last September, Prof. Geoff Steinhart's fisheries management class met with club officials in Engadine, Mich., to conduct a three-day expedition that examined more than 3,000 fish in three lakes. The data they collected will assess the status of fisheries on club properties and develop management plans to improve the lakes’ fisheries.

Twelve students noted the abundance, composition, and condition of fish, along with several other aspects of the lakes, including water quality and aquatic insect communities. The class will spend the rest of this semester analyzing data and developing management plans for improving the fishing and lake quality. Once the class develops these plans, they will be reviewed, debated, and revised before being presented to the HSC this winter.

RESEARCH ASHORE – Lake Superior State University fisheries students and faculty team up with the Hiawatha Sportsmen's Club to survey a lake on a 35,000-acre reserve in Michigan's Eastern Upper Peninsula. LSSU is in the sixth year of an agreement that allows students to conduct a variety of research. The club also endows a scholarship for biology students. (Photo by Nick Vitale)

A print-resolution photo can be found here.

Projects like these that tap LSSU faculty and student expertise have exceeded the HSC's expectations.

"I am a retired educator and have been very impressed with the quality of work done by the students from LSSU that are working with our fishery here at HSC," says John MacFarland, a club governor and director of the HSC fish program. "Their work is of excellent quality and very helpful to the Hiawatha Club. They are helping us solve some problems we are having with our lakes and also helping us develop management plans for these lakes."

He adds that other club members are especially impressed with the work of students who earn HSC scholarships.

HSC manager Lester Livermore considers the whole arrangement to be an investment that will pay dividends for everyone who enjoys the outdoors.

"Time and time again they have proven to me that they have the skill, knowledge, and desire that future wildlife managers will need to deal with the challenges ahead."

The Hiawatha Sportsmen’s Club enjoys a region rich in history, hunting, fishing, canoeing, hiking, and more. Find out more by pointing your Web browser to here on the Web.

For more information on the Hiawatha Sportsmen's Club Award, or any one of the more than 100 scholarships and awards available at LSSU, call the LSSU Foundation office at 906-635-2665 or go here on the Web.

Geoff Steinhart, Brianne Lunn, and Cory Jerome contributed to this press release. Vitale submitted this release and and his photos for LSSU's fall photojournalism course.

NETTING FOR SCIENCE – Lake Superior State University fisheries students Brianne Lunn (Bellaire, Mich.) and Corey Jerome (Hamilton, Mich.) sample biodiversity by gillnetting sections of a lake. LSSU researchers noted the abundance, composition and condition of fish they collected as part of a collaborative study with Hiawatha Sportsmen's Club. (Photo by Nick Vitale)

A print-resolution photo can be found here.