Tips on Working in Fisheries Conservation

Discussion in 'General Conversation' started by Environmentor, Dec 22, 2005.

  1. Environmentor

    Environmentor New Member

    Buffalo, Iowa
    Sorry Katmaster Jr. messages are limited to 5000 words. Besides, maybe other people would find this useful.

    Katmaster Jr.
    Hey, I noticed on one of your post your were talking about how you studied to become a fisheries biologist. Well, that's what I plan on being one day. Eithier that or if I'm lucky I want to work for A fishing magazine like In-fisherman or something. My aunt is a retired fisheries biologist. I used to go out with her when I was little and watch here on the job, since then I have always been into it. I'm 15 yr old now, and I do all my reports in school on fish, just like you did. How many year's of college does it take to become a fisheries biologist. Do you have any tip's you can give me to improve my knowledge of Marine fisheries, etc.

    Environmentor’s Tips on Working In the Field of Conservation and Fisheries

    I actually didn't get my degree in fisheries management. Rather, my degree is "general biology," as the college I attended was a small private liberal arts college. I have a 4 year degree, as most people who strive to work as a conservationist should set as their minimum goal. A B.A. or B.S. is important. Like most college students, majors are changed. I started as a fisheries biology major, then switched schools to become an environmental science major (because I am an environmentalist) then switched back to General Biology because the part of environmental science I like is working with the preservation of life and animals (and I went to my final school). I actually have a enough credits as a person with a Masters degree (151 total hours) - but I switched majors and schools so many times I only have a 129 applicable degree credits for my B.A. However, I took some fisheries classes and worked for the DNR Fisheries for 10 months.
    I graduated at the top of my class summa cum laude with a 4.0 G.P.A. and am a member of Phi Theta Kappa honors society, Beta Beta Beta Biological Honors Society, and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

    Typically big state schools have "specialized" degrees. If you get a specialized degree, like icthyology, then you are more likely to get a job in fisheries - but less likely to get a job in other areas - if fisheries are not hiring. With my general biology degree I could get DNR work in fisheries or wildlife, or work in zoos, or work in some medical labs if necessary. I have had a very hard time finding a job in Fish and Wildlife or DNR because there are limited numbers of positions that come open (also, many jobs are cut in these areas by some politicians); however, I also want to remain where I currently live, so this really limits my opportunities - however I have had job offers from many miles away such as Oregon, but I live in Iowa. So, to get a job one should try not limit themselves to a particular region or state.

    The degree you choose depends on the job you want. Find out what your really want to do. Speak to highschool career counselors or participate in job shadows. Degrees in aquaculture are good if you want to work in a hatchery. If you want to write for fishing magazines then a major in english and minor in fisheries biology would probably be ideal. Having a minor in english would probably work if you want writing for magazines to be your back up plan. Icthyology or Fisheries Management are good degrees for being a fisheries biologist like your aunt, and this should typically be a 5-6 year masters degree. If you want to work as an Oceanographer or Marine Fisheries management then you have to go to a college near the ocean. If you want to teach fisheries in a college then you need a doctorate (7+ years). Of course, you could always get other degrees and use them, for example: getting a computer degree and starting your own fishing website or working for In-fisherman online. Another example is majoring in criminal justice and minoring in biology and becoming a game warden or conservation officer.

    As with most jobs, you are in direct competition with other people wanting the job. Most DNRs don't have a degree requirement (this could change however). Rather, you are in direct competition with other potential employees. The person who gets the job is the one with the most experience and education. It is always good to work your summers for DNRs or work as an intern for where ever you want to end up. Something that most people (like your aunt) don't tell you is that if you get your degree in fisheries, then you put in long hours during the fishing season. Therefore, you are less likely to have time to fish. For example, when I was in H.S. I fished nearly every other day during the summer (even days I worked at the local grocery store). When I worked summers for the DNR, I only found time to fish 4 or 5 times all summer because I worked so many hours. The same applies with hunters who grow up to be wildlife biologists (they spend the whole hunting season working). So, I know some people, who were hunters, who became fisheries biologists so they could have the winter off to hunt. I also know fisherman who work as wildlife biologists so they could have a slower time during the summer to fish. So, to get the job you want in a conservation field you need education and experience.

    However, EXPERIENCE is most important. You have some working with your aunt. You should keep working with her (if she still works in fisheries). You should also try to get your jobs/ summer jobs with DNR or agency of your choice (U.S. Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, State DNR, county conservation boards, city conservation groups, environmental organizations, or whatever). You should volunteer your time with the fisheries, when possible. Also, realize that all the state DNR is combined, and so are some other organizations (despite being broken into bureaucratic headings). I have seen wildlife biologists, park rangers, game wardens, naturalists, fisheries biologist, and hatchery workers all help each other in some situations. So, sometimes experience as a park ranger can be applied to fisheries. Alot of different agencies like any conservation experience, for example working/volunteering as a naturalist for your county conservation board might help you get the job for fisheries management at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. Sometimes they even prefer different backgrounds because you gain and possess a wide range of skills and experiences by working different conservation jobs. They even like seeing volunteers for people at environmental organizations like World Wildlife Fund or your local grass roots organizations (like my local group is Chad Pregacke’s living lands and waters). So, always try and work/volunteer with people in the conservation community. A major skill conservationists like is working in front of large groups/crowds of people. Working/volunteering as a naturalist or helping give hikes, or giving demonstrations in front of small school kids satisfies this. Even though you are 15 (and unlikely, by law age restrictions to get a job in conservation) you could still volunteer for some jobs. Also, volunteering/working provides you with friends/aquantinces in these places (called networking) who could help get you jobs in their agency or other agencies. If you stick out of the crowd and are a good worker, they will remember you. Plus, you could always make good friends (and, besides, fisheries management friends always know the best places to fish). Also ask these people what classes or skills they think you should posses to do the job you like. Also, volunteering for those organizations above will not only help you get the job you want, but if done early should also help you get into the college you want.

    Also, take classes and join school groups now that are geared toward your future degree and job. I know not all schools have all classes or groups. But, the more the merrier. However, you could even try to start an organization which demonstrates leadership skills. Use your best judgement in choosing classes, organizations, and volunteer experience that fits your conservation goals.
    A fisheries biologist/wildlife biologist/biologist should take some biology, chemistry, zoology, ecology, environmental science classes at their highschool. You should also take some math - statistics and algebra, calculus, trigonometry. You could also take classes like weather, climate, geology. If your highschool is big enough to have some specialized classes (like genetics, water ecology, botany) then take them. Some high schools partner with colleges so you can take classes at college (that transfer to your college) to finish your highschool credits. Take some of these, either to fill your general college education requirements or take classes like introduction to zoology or introduction to genetics or get your first chemistries out of the way. You could also study some stuff on your own time, especially if you enjoy it. For example, pick up some books or field guides on fish/birds/plants and try to memorize some of your local flora or fauna where you live, work, or where you want to go to college. Knowing the difference between a walleye and sauger could help you get your fisheries summer job. Being able to determine a species of hawk might help you become a park naturalist. A lot of this would give you a head start in college, because you will likely do some field biology. I knew more fish, and was regarded as the class fish expert, in my vertebrate class which was taught by an ornithologist/herpetologist. If you do all your writings on fishing (as I did) and might want to minor in english/journalism, then take some english, journalism, or writing classes in highschool.
    You should join school clubs. You could be in the environmental club, as they unusually donate time and volunteer for a lot of the above mentioned places. If you organize an event, it even helps demonstrate your leadership. (I founded my community college environmental campus organization). You could also join the school biology club, let the president or teacher know your interests as a future, fishery biologist. Maybe some of the events they sponsor could revolve around fish/ecology. You could do some research on fish. Asking questions and always observing is the signs of a good biologist. Researching is biology, and you should get used to it now. Research work in highschool, should put you leaps and bounds ahead of your college classmates. You could organize a fishing clinic for your town and have demonstrations and a fishing derby. If you want to write, you could also work for the school paper. (Let the school teacher in charge of the paper and chief editor know your interests as a future writer for fishing magazines and maybe you could write fishing articles for your highschool paper.) You could also try and contact little local news papers, and write an outdoors/fishing article for them for payment or just for fun/experience. Keep all your writings in a scrapbook. Both, in the world of writing and biology, just being published is a great accomplishment.

    So, here is a condensed version of my tips:
    1. Know what you really want to do, so you know what to accomplish to reach this goal.
    2. Figure out what you need to achieve this goal, and strive toward success.
    3. Get the education you need (start in highschool and work really, really hard)
    4. Increase your skills and experience, through jobs, clubs, and volunteer work.
  2. Katmaster Jr.

    Katmaster Jr. New Member

    Wilmington, NC
    Thank's for the post.....great.....I'm gonna save it on my Computer so I should have it forever to refer back to if I need to.....Thank's again, Zakk :)