Today we hear from Tannar Francis, a Pathways student working in our fisheries program in Maine. Tannar shares his story of passion and commitment to fisheries conservation, and his journey in following his dream to work in the field of natural resources.
Having grown up with strong cultural ties to the land and watersheds within the Penobscot Indian Nation, I always knew I wanted to pursue a job in the outdoors. The summer after I completed high school this dream became reality when I received an opportunity to apply for a biologist aid position for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
After being interviewed for the job, I was offered the position, which started my journey into the world of fisheries. I spent my first summer with the Service conducting stream surveys in the Mattamiscontis watershed in Lincoln, Maine in order to see what locations in the watershed are suitable for salmon stocking and rearing. In knowing this information we could then determine where we should implant the salmon eggs. When I finished my seasonal employment and gave my end of the summer presentation to my supervisor, he asked if I would be interested in coming back the following summer, to which I replied “absolutely,” with great appreciation!
Now I am currently in my fourth field season with the Service in the Pathways program, which helps students gain employment with the Service after graduation. As a Pathways student I have done many different fishery tasks, including electrofishing to see what fish species are in different watersheds, culvert fish removal in order to safely relocate fish from a construction site, clamshell relocation after the dams on the Penobscot river were removed and the water levels were dropping to safely put them in the deepest part of the water channel and river habitat restoration. I have also worked in hatcheries, gaining experience in bleeding fish to find out if any contain diseases and making “trap runs” to get fish out of the fish traps at the Milford dam to bring to the hatchery for spawning.
Having this start in fisheries helped steer my education in the direction of environmental sciences. I plan to graduate from the University of Maine at Farmington with a degree in environmental science and continue my education by pursuing my masters in a more specific topic such as fisheries biology. I know that education is the key to success and I plan on gaining as much knowledge in the science field as possible. As for future career goals I hope to get a job in fisheries that is close to home, such as a Service job in the northeast.
I am very passionate about working with fish and I have gained a lot of knowledge in the field these past summers, yet there is still more to learn. I am thankful for all of the experiences and knowledge that I have acquired by working with the Service and I look forward to what the future holds for me.