Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Cross-training isn’t just for athletes
Midwest Region, October 1, 2007
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Patty Herman and Brett Witte remove fish from a trawl on the Missouri River at St. Charles.  Picture by Colby Wrasse.
Patty Herman and Brett Witte remove fish from a trawl on the Missouri River at St. Charles. Picture by Colby Wrasse. - Photo Credit: n/a

Late summer presented an opportunity for several staff to “cross-train” with various crews among Missouri River projects at Columbia NFWCO.  This was a great opportunity to expand experiences and work skills for everyone involved.  This was also an important step to train employees on the gears, procedures and operations unique to each project. 

Cross-training is a useful method of team building and recognizing strengths in crew members that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.  Cross-training is also part of a sound business management plan by allowing crews to recruit experienced staff when help is needed.  Other important aspects of these exercises are to improve safety, familiarity with the river, sampling techniques and data collection.   

Each project has complex and specialized methods and gear for sampling, collecting, and reporting data.   “Trainees” were schooled in all facets of sampling including gear deployment, repair, boat driving, and data recording.  Crews stern trawled and push trawled using three types of gear on the Missouri River.  Mitigation crews bow trawled and drifted trammel nets in side chutes of the river. 

Missouri Department of Conservation got in on the fun as well.   Darby Niswonger and Ryan Dirnberger of the Missouri River Field Station, Chillicothe, MO, spent a day stern trawling with the Pallid Monitoring crew.  The finer elements of data recording and trawl boat design were discussed.  A hatchery-stocked pallid sturgeon was caught while sampling and, to commemorate the capture, Nick Utrup presented Darby and Ryan with pallid coins. 

Cross-training exercises benefit the Service by expanding training opportunities, reducing costs and improving transition of staff between and among projects.  Cooperative participation of staff between projects and among agencies supports the “Partnership Goal” and the “Workforce Management Goal” of the Fisheries Program Vision for the Future. 

Contact Info: Patricia Herman, 618-997-6869 x108, Patricia_Herman@fws.gov
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