Fisheries Folks Become Family at NCTC
BY TIM SMIGIELSKI, REGIONAL OFFICE
It just seems that when Fisheries folks meet up anywhere, there is usually a welcoming atmosphere and some bond that is perhaps unique to those in our field of work. And at our National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Shepherdstown, West Virginia this observation was more apparent than ever during the 2014 Fisheries Academy Course, completed in early March of this year.
And they came from all over the country, from Alaska to Vermont and, Wisconsin down to Texas. The participants, US Fish and Wildlife Service staff, were selected by their region through nomination. It’s a big commitment, because the course lasts for two weeks. So, temporarily leaving families and work duties behind, the participants became fully engaged in the “work of others” all across the country and the resulting experiences…were truly amazing.
The overarching objective of the Fisheries Academy course is to inspire future leaders to continue to develop themselves and more importantly, to help develop others, with the intent of leading the way into the future of fisheries and aquatic species conservation in this country.
So daily during the entire two weeks, the class worked in teams. Each team was assigned a unique problem or issue to analyze. The class was asked to consider the course material while generating possible options or solutions. These were “real world” issues that the Service, a region or individual station may encounter.
The final team presentations and briefings were creative, insightful and entertaining. This was the first time that this technique (a Capstone project as it was called) had been employed during the course. And since it was March Madness time when this was written, the result was “Nothing but Net!”
It was during team time when the real learning occurred and the friendships and unique ties that may last a career or lifetime were made. In addition, outside in hall, on break, at dinner and on weekend site seeing adventures, staff solidified the relationships that will help shape the future and keep safe the heritage of fisheries conservation.
Nearly 30 new graduates of the academy are out and about at stations across the country and if you happen to run into one of them, they will be glad to share their experience and perhaps they will inspire another to lead within the Service.