Student Perspectives

Mark Young, Bachelor of Arts in Fisheries
Current Student

by Katie Murra Straub, Recruitment & Retention Coordinator

Q: What first brought you to Alaska?

The Army brought my family and me to Alaska. My involvement with UAF started almost immediately upon my arrival, both as a student and an adjunct instructor in the music department. When I agreed to come to Alaska I was in mylast semester of grad school at Auburn University as a percussion performance major and I only needed two elective courses to complete my degree. I was able to take those courses at UAF and I was asked if I would teach a couple of percussion courses at UAF.

Q: Tell me a little more about your educational background.

I received my Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance in 1991 from Henderson State University. If you think being a broke college graduate is bad, add a degree in music performance to the mix! What was an undergrad musician to do? Join the Army, of course! It was while I was in the Army that I was offered the opportunity to earn my master’s degree in music. My focus in grad school was on Guatemalan marimba and Indonesian gamelan. When my wife and I decided to stay in Alaska I knew that I would have to either go back to school for a teaching credential or do something completely different.

Q: How did you decide to pursue a B.A. in Fisheries?

I was flying from Kodiak back to Fairbanks when I saw an article in a magazine about the B.A. in Fisheries. I knew I had to check it out. I am a Coast Guard accredited mariner, an AMSEA certified drill conductor, licensed Alaska Saltwater Guide and Charter operator and I serve as a trainer for marine oil spill response training. The program just seemed to fit my interests and background.

Q: What do you look forward to in your fisheries education?

I really like the diverse faculty and the way SFOS connects students and faculty together in a manner that is geared toward common interests. Katie Murra Straub did a fantastic job at looking at my background and matching me with an awesome advisor, Courtney Carothers. Carothers’ background in commercial fisheries, community development and the human dimension of fisheries is a great match.

Q: How do you feel your fisheries education will benefit you?

It has already benefited me. Andrew Seitz’s “Fishes of Alaska” course has given me a great appreciation and respect for all of the fish that come aboard, including those pesky spiny dogfish. John Kelley’s “The Oceans” class has opened my eyes to the role of the ocean in the Earth system.

Q: What do you like about Alaska?

My family and I have lived in Alaska for almost 15 years and we cannot imagine living anywhere else. I enjoy all of the incredible resources Alaska has to offer, not only the natural resources, but the great cultural resources as well. I have performed with the Fairbanks Symphony and through the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival I studied with principal players from the Boston Pops and performed with artists from the recording studios of Hollywood and Broadway. My point is this is an amazing place to live and study– no matter what your interests are.

I really enjoy SFOS, because it is “experiential.” The way the School has developed their programs so that the curriculum has integrated classroom learning and “real world” opportunities is fantastic. In a lot of ways it reminds me of when I was an undergrad in music. There is so much energy throughout SFOS.

Q: What is your favorite thing about UAF?

For a university that is not that large, I am amazed at the breadth and depth of the programs. UAF has it all. What do you hope to do in the future? I would really like to work for Sea Grant, specifically, the Marine Advisory Program as a marine advisory agent. When I was the director of training at Prince William Sound Community College, I had the privilege of interfacing with two members of the Marine Advisory Program, Don Kramer and Torie Baker. Both were absolutely fascinating to talk to about their individual specialties.

MAP is appealing to me because I would like to work with rural communities in the areas of seafood quality, marketing, business planning, education and marine safety. I have worked with commercial fishermen throughout Prince William Sound, Kodiak, Seward and Homer for the last several years training them in oil spill response. Working in and around fish and the people who make it a living would be an awesome job.

I am very excited about being an SFOS student and pursuing the B.A. fisheries degree. In the short amount of time I have been involved with SFOS, I can tell there is a lot of energy from the students, staff and faculty. I am proud to be a part of that.

Kevin Fraley, Bachelor of Science in Fisheries

By Kevin Fraley
Spring 2012 Graduate

Kevin Fraley is a freshman studying fisheries at the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. In this autobiographical piece, Fraley tells us why he decided to study fisheries and why he chose to come to UAF for college.

I grew up in Kalispell, Montana, as the son of a fisheries biologist. I was exposed to the outdoors and fish when I was very young. My dad got me interested in fishing and aquatic insects, and I often helped him when he made presentations about natural resources and fisheries.

Later, when I was in fourth grade, I volunteered in the “Hooked on Fishing not on Drugs Program” at my elementary school. “Hooked on Fishing” is a program where kids are taken out on fishing trips at local bodies of water to increase their connection with the outdoors and wildlife. I continued to help with this program until I graduated from high school.

Another fisheries-related activity I participated in was the “Fishing Without Barriers Day.” This is an activity where disabled anglers from all over Montana were taken out on Flathead Lake in charter boats to fish for the sporty and succulent lake trout. I helped these anglers fight and land the fish, and also assisted the charter boat captains with various nautical tasks.

I was and still am an avid fisherman, and this helped me appreciate the world of fish even more. I liked to fish for different and interesting fish, and I marveled at their strange and intriguing habits. It was then, in about seventh grade, that I decided I wanted to become a fish biologist like my father.

I continued to participate in “Hooked on Fishing” and “Fishing Without Barriers Day,” and I also began to volunteer for my dad at Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.

I went with him several times to count Westslope cutthroat trout (Montana’s state fish) and bull trout redd (a nest made by fish in gravel to lay eggs and spawn) counts in the area.

I also tagged along on genetic surveys, population estimates, and fish stocking efforts.

Two summers ago I went on a three day mark and recapture population estimate with the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Fisheries crew.

This was a hook and line capture estimate, so it was lots of fun. It was also nice to hang out with the biologists on this trip. I realized that the field of fisheries must draw some pretty good people because everybody on the crew was very likeable and easy to relate to.

Last summer I was chosen as an American Fisheries Society Hutton Scholarship/Internship winner. During this internship I learned about fisheries techniques and the importance of public opinion. I was able to get the feel of what a fisheries biologist’s job is really like. I participated in a wide variety of fun jobs such as gill-netting, plankton sampling, electrofishing from boat and backpack, and stocking fish. I even learned how to sort aquatic insects by order.

All these experiences have made me realize that fisheries is the career for me, and I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. It also makes me feel good to know that I’m contributing to the health and good management of the fish populations that I love.

I decided to come to the University of Alaska Fairbanks for several reasons, chiefly because I wanted to experience the wildness of Alaska. It also helped that the unit leader of a prestigious fisheries school in the Lower 48 recommended UAF’s program over his own.

The staff at UAF and the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences were more personable and helpful than those at other universities. I also earned several substantial scholarships that have allowed me to attend UAF.

I am currently taking “Introduction to Fisheries” because it is a requirement for the degree, and because it will help me jump right in to the next upper-level fisheries courses I take. As a fisheries student at UAF, I am looking forward to gaining new perspectives on what fisheries management is like in Alaska and learn about Alaska’s fish, many of which are new to me.

Shelley Woods, Bachelor of Science in Fisheries
Fall 2009 Graduate

by Shelley Woods

My name is Shelley Woods. I am 22 years old and I am pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Fisheries from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Fisheries has not always been my career choice, although I have been involved in subsistence and commercial fisheries since I was very young.

I grew up in Dillingham, Alaska subsisting and being involved with commercial fishing. I went off to a private college after high school to study biology, with the intent to go to medical school. After a summer internship counting salmon in a remote field setting I changed my course of studies to fisheries.

I have a particular interest in fisheries management as I have experience as a fisherwoman and an intern biologist. I am in my second semester of the fisheries program at UAF and have nothing but good things to say about my professors and peers at UAF. Because of the community atmosphere I plan to stay in Fairbanks and enter into the graduate program. I look forward to being a part of the exciting growth and development that the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences is undergoing.

(Note: In Spring 2010 fisheries senior Shelley Woods received the Outstanding Student Award for the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. She was recognized at the UAF annual student awards breakfast in late April and at an American Fisheries Society Fairbanks Sub-Unit barbecue in May.

Woods also received a $2,000 scholarship from SFOS as the outstanding senior in the fisheries undergraduate program. She plans to graduate this fall with a B.S. in fisheries and then continue on to graduate studies in fisheries at SFOS.

Other scholarship winners for the fisheries program include outstanding junior Keegan Birchfield ($2,000), sophomore Chris Oliver ($1,500) and freshman Mark Setzer ($1,500). Learn more about fisheries scholarships here.

Jessica Johnson, Bachelor of Science in Fisheries,
2008 Graduate

Hello, my name is Jess Johnson and I am originally from Montana. I came to the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in fisheries. I will graduate with my B.S. in fisheries this spring [spring 2008]. At UAF, I have been an active member of our student subunit of the American Fisheries Society. Last year, I was the secretary for the subunit and I am currently serving as the president.

I have had two great job experiences in fisheries during my undergraduate career at UAF. The first one was with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game where I worked as a College Intern II with Lisa Stuby on her project that involved radio-tagging Chinook salmon on the Kuskokwim River. The second opportunity I had was with the Bureau of Land Management where I worked as a Biological Aide with Jason Post on his project that involved taking age, sex, and length on Chinook and chum salmon on the Tozitna River. After graduation, I plan to use these valuable fisheries experiences and the knowledge I gained from my education at UAF to find a position as a Fisheries Biologist with a state department or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.