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Alumni Profile
Stephen Smith - class of 2000

 

 


 

 
 
 

Fish Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Resource Office

Background: Steve was born and raised in St. Albans, VT and attended Saint Michaels from 1996-2000; B.S. Biology, minor in Environmental Studies.  He received a M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology studying life history of sea lamprey 

What got you interested in your current field? Growing up I was immersed in outdoor activities by two older brothers and a grandfather. Spending time on a lake or in the woods helped me fall in love with nature. By the time I was at St. Michaels I was drawn toward biology by one of my brothers who was working in wildlife biology. The idea of making a career working with wildlife or fish seemed perfect. I decided Biology was a great fit for me and I focused on organismal and field oriented courses.

What led you down the path to where you are now? During my junior year I saw an advertisement for a summer intern position with the local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office and decided to apply. I was lucky enough to get the job and had a wonderful summer working on various fish and wildlife projects on Lake Champlain. This internship solidified my desire to be a field biologist. After working with the Fish and Wildlife Service for a few more summers as a biological technician I attended the University of Vermont and received a M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology studying the early life history of the sea lamprey.

What experiences in the Saint Michael's College biology department prepared you for your post-graduate training and your career? I think the strong academic focus of the Biology department and great professors at St. Mikes made the transition to Graduate School very straightforward. Even though I did not conduct a senior research project, I was exposed to research and field study through coursework. I specifically remember designing experiments in Animal Behavior lab and collecting fish data in Aquatic Biology. These experiences were critical for me in pursuing a career in Fish and Wildlife Biology.

Do you have any advice for students interested in your field? The field of wildlife and fisheries biology has grown very competitive in the last decade. I think that students interested in this field should build a strong base in biology while at St. Michaels, and then find a way to gain some experience, prior to graduate school, in their particular field of interest. This experience will help them compete for positions in graduate school that will send them on their way to a great career.

Are there specific opportunities you think biology majors should pursue before graduation? Certainly any experience with independent research while at St. Michaels will greatly help the chances of being accepted to a good graduate program.

What advice would you give current Saint Michael's College students interested in graduate study and/or specifically interested in your field? I would strongly encourage students interested in wildlife and fisheries biology to get experience in the field before starting a graduate program. This experience will help you to focus your interests and it will make you a more attractive candidate for quality graduate programs. Lastly, don�t get discouraged while pursuing your career goals, be willing to move around and work hard whenever given the opportunity.

 

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