There I was, 5 years old and fishing for the first time with my new plastic, pink Barbie fishing rod. I never expected it to be snatched into the water right before my eyes by a fish, but right then I knew I needed to be out for vengeance in the years to come. I fished more and more throughout the years in the hopes of catching the sucker that pulled my rod into the water.
I ultimately fell in love with the sport, and that led me to today.
Here I am now, 19 years later, dedicating my time as a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service intern filming the beautiful lands and waterways that very fish caused me to love.
In addition to fishing, my father took me camping and boating starting at a young age, and I’ve never looked back. The joy I felt going outside with my family and friends is what really inspires me to connect others with the great outdoors. I remember watching the Discovery Channel and National Geographic while growing up. I was so captivated by the places and visual storytelling the filmmakers created that I wanted to try it for myself. Inspiring others through visual media to travel and conserve their favorite camping, boating and recreational areas is what I aim to do. This passion led me to Stephen F. Austin State University, where I recently graduated with my degree in filmmaking/cinematography.
While pursuing my degree I started rock climbing and worked as a backcountry trip leader for the university, which allowed me to come across many faces, creeds and personalities that share my wonder and joy for the outdoors. Introducing individuals to new locations they’ve never been to, and watching them go back to these same spots made me fall even more in love with trying to reach a larger audience through visual storytelling. While working as a backcountry leader, I was able to film my weeklong journeys on the Rio Grande, backpacking through the Grand Canyon, and many more adventures.
Interning with the Service in western Washington, I’ve been able to film new locations in new states. I’ve filmed snowcapped mountains and beautiful river beds where the water reflects stunning blue and green hues I’ve never seen before. I’ve even had the opportunity to film some of the beautiful salmon in Washington’s rivers. I’ve also learned how to collect data from fish. I’m so excited to show the public the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and the efforts that go into studying the different fish species here.
As I work with the Service, I’m looking to gain experience by filming fisheries research projects in a diversity of settings. I’m also looking to expand my knowledge in other conservation efforts, and share what I’ve learned through photo and video storytelling. As I pursue my career as an outdoor documentary filmmaker, I am always looking for opportunities to gain the knowledge necessary to educate individuals on public land conservation, land practices and create stories that bring outdoor communities together.
I still haven’t caught the fish that started it all but when I do, 20 years from now, I’ll have to thank it for the journey it led me on.
Editor’s note: Typhanie Shepherd is a digital media intern serving at the Western Washington Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. This internship is an AmeriCorps position through a partnership with the American Conservation Experience.