An Outdoorsman’s Journal
By: Mark Walters
A Summer Unlike Any Other
Hello everyone: This week I will be taking over my Dad’s article to update you on my life and how I have been doing. As some of you may have noticed, unfortunately lately I have been too busy to go on as many trips with my Dad as I used to. As much as this is a letdown for me, I have been blessed to have many opportunities to learn about natural resources, and what I want to pursue in the future.
This summer I was extremely lucky and landed a job in Stevens Point as an aquatic invasive species technician for Golden Sands Resource Conservation and Development. Golden Sands is a nonprofit organization that works with community members to educate and help with large-scale environmental issues. I am majoring in fisheries and aquatic sciences at UW-SP, so this job was the perfect opportunity for me to learn outside of the classroom and have a great time while doing it.
Many people asked me what my job actually meant, as the name is very broad, but essentially, I would do lake surveys to check for invasive species, boat inspections, and if it weren’t for COVID I would have done a lot of education and outreach events. Essentially, 85 percent of my job was kayaking around lakes and searching for invasive species. I worked alongside my boss, Chris Hamerla, most of the summer and we would do point intercept surveys to assess the aquatic plant health of whole lakes, and also early detection surveys where we would meander around lakes and search select locations for new invasive plant growth. Guys, I cannot even begin to tell you how much I learned this summer. Starting out, I was very nervous because I did not really know the names of many plants or what they looked like. I now am confident with identifying many of the aquatic plants you will find in our Wisconsin lakes. This job also just taught me so many life skills that will help me with future jobs, like traveling with a kayak on top of my car, organizing events with the public, and how to properly record and document data. One of my favorite projects of this summer was to help a coworker with biocontrol for Eurasian watermilfoil. I’m sure many of you know what Eurasion watermilfoil (EWM) is, or at least have seen it. It is a very common invasive species which once in a lake quickly takes over. Rather than treating lakes with a chemical, there is a species of weevil that feeds on EWM and lessens the population over time. Much of my summer was spent collecting stems to raise weevils and collecting the weevils themselves. I really enjoyed this aspect of my job as I got to see the changes that the weevils made and there were no harsh impacts to the rest of the plant community as there would likely be with a chemical treatment.
My work has started to slow down now, as I started school on Sept. 2 and have been busy with that. UW-SP is being very careful about coronavirus so most of my classes are online besides some labs. While I am not especially excited about this, I understand why they are doing it, and am just grateful to be back in school and living with my friends.
I couldn’t be any happier with how my life is going, despite everything that is going on in the world today. I’m very excited for my future, too.
Stay happy and healthy, Selina Walters
It doesn’t get much better than working out of a kayak all summer!
Sampling weevel cages to see how much damage the weavels did!
I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such great people and learned as much as I did this summer!