Women in Science: Connecting with the Future
Fish and Wildlife Biologist
Rock Island Ecological Services Field Office
Aleshia Kenney after seining an oxbow pond to survey for endangered Topeka shiners.
Photo by Kristen Lundh/USFWS
August 29, 2014
How long have you been working with the Service?
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I have known that I wanted to be a biologist since I was 8 years old. I grew up with the Mississippi River literally in my backyard. My dad is a commercial fisherman on the river. He sets nets to catch mostly carp, buffalo, catfish and drum to sell to fish markets around the state.
I would often go out with him and just observe everything that the river had to offer - the sounds, the smells, and the sights! I would scoop up a bucket of water, and was fascinated by all of the tiny living things moving around in it. I loved watching the eagles soar behind the boat as we were pulling in net loads of fish, and I loved seeing all the different kinds of fish that the river hid beneath its shiny surface. I remember asking my dad why certain kinds of fish were only found in certain places on the river.
One day he had a couple of state fisheries biologists in his boat taking scale samples from some of the fish he caught. My dad asked me to pose that question to them. Their faces lit up and one of them said you should be a biologist! From that moment I was completely hooked, and knew what I wanted to be when I grew up!