Quinault National Fish Hatchery, a federal U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service facility started a Junior Fishery Biologist program in the fall of 2004. The program is designed to give an accelerated student from the local Quinault Lake School an opportunity to work at a salmon production facility alongside professional biologists and fish culturists with hopes that each student will pursue further educational opportunities at the collegiate level in biology or environmental sciences.
Matt Harris was selected for the program after being recommended by school administrators and interviewed by hatchery supervisors. After spending only a few minutes with the kid from Quinault it’s easy to tell that his heart is in the outdoors of the Pacific Northwest. Matt who was born in Hoquiam, Washington in 1987 is currently a senior at Quinault Lake School. His father moved to the area from Yureka, California several years ago. Matt has generally lived in the Quinault area his whole life. He has one sister and one brother. Matt’s interests include fishing, hunting, and four wheeling, but not necessarily in that order. He enjoys elk and deer hunting with a few close friends. To date the biggest fish he’s caught is a sixty pound Chinook salmon from the upper Quinault River. When he’s not pursuing his outdoor activities Matt cuts firewood to sell for a little money.
The Junior Fishery Biologist Program is designed for one semester during a student’s junior or senior year. Matt’s duties include fish feeding, cleaning ponds, spawning adult salmon and steelhead, guiding hatchery tours, stream ecology and aquatic habitat evaluation, special fish length/weight study, and statistical analysis using computer applications. As a senior Matt is close to finishing this program as well as graduating in the spring of 2005. “Matt’s enthusiasm easily rubs off on volunteers and hatchery staff. If he stays focused Matt has the abilities and skills to accomplish his goals and so much more,” stated Paul Hayduk, hatchery manager. “ For a high school student this is a demanding program; however, Matt has taken on all of the challenges and made this a rewarding experience.”
After high school graduation Matt hopes to attend Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. He intends to further his education by studying either engineering or biology. His long term goal is to get a good job and make lots of money. Matt explained, “I’ve learned fish culture activities, hatchery operations, and basic fundamentals of fish health diagnostics through this program at the hatchery. It has been rewarding because it has given me hand s-on experience in the fields that I’m interested in.”
Thirty years from now Matt envisions himself raising a family and having a good job working for either a federal, state, or tribal agency while living in the Pacific Northwest.