Cleaning water tanks, monitoring oxygen levels, recording fish weights and sorting fish accordingly. Trent Honours Biology student Kayla Nelson is right where she wants (and needs) to be, gaining invaluable experience at the Harwood Fish Culture Station near Rice Lake.
Ms. Nelson is a member of a team dedicated to spawning, raising and stocking fish populations, particularly Atlantic salmon and trout, destined for lakes and rivers in the Lake Ontario region. Staff collect eggs and milt from fish, disinfect them to prevent disease, fertilize and hatch eggs, and rear young fish, the end goal being to replenish declining fish populations. The Harwood station is one of nine in Ontario overseen by the Ministry of Natural Resources.
“Anything conservation-related that is actually going to better wildlife populations…that’s my main drive,” says Ms. Nelson, noting her placement provides her with a specialization in Conservation Biology and speaks to what has been a lifelong interest in ecology.
As much as her hands-on experience will help her moving forward, the Roseneath native also sees the real value of her placement being the opportunity to work closely with professionals in the fish-conservation field.
“I’m making a lot of great connections,” says Ms. Nelson.
“The people I’m working with have been in the field for a while and really know what they’re doing. I’m getting a lot of great advice as well as training for a fishery technician type of job. This is my major source of hands-on experience and it’s making me more marketable for a job.”
Planning to minor in Environmental Science after taking a year off, Ms. Nelson hopes to pursue a career in an aquatic area of biology. She says her overall Trent experience, in particular her placement, has prepared her very well for that journey.