September 7, 2021

2021 Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC Scholarship Recipients

Since 2008, the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC has awarded over $72,000 in scholarships to 43 students. The scholarships recognize outstanding commitment to academic pursuits in the field of freshwater fisheries. Here are this year’s scholarship winners.

Alyssa Nonis

“I grew up in Port Moody, B.C., with my interest in aquatic ecosystems starting at an early age – from exploring streams in my family’s neighbourhood to countless hours fishing in the South-Central Interior and on the ocean.
“I first pursued a Bachelor of Science in Biology in Massachusetts while partaking in varsity sport. My short time there made me realize how fortunate I was to be living in B.C., and I made the switch to the Natural Resources Conservation program with a major in Science and Management at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Forestry. This is where I got my first taste of fisheries science, inspired by the Pacific Salmon Ecology and Conservation (PSEC) Lab. Over the summers of my undergraduate degree, I worked for several hatcheries to then become a research assistant investigating the freshwater ecology of the threatened Salish sucker. I then volunteered for the PSEC Lab, ultimately leading to my M.Sc. project, where I am exploring the use of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) to link salmonid freshwater habitat with advanced remote sensing approaches to assess habitat potential in small coastal streams. This research is important because it will allow resource managers to gain a holistic understanding of salmonid habitat potential at the landscape scale, a typically hard task due to the logistics of stream sampling.
“I am honoured to be offered this scholarship, and would like to thank the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC. Upon completing my Master’s degree, I hope to continue working with salmonids and to contribute to the conservation of freshwater ecosystems of British Columbia.”

Jesse Huizenga

“I developed a deep appreciation for aquatic systems and the fish that inhabit them while fishing on B.C.’s lakes with my grandparents, and along the Fraser River in Abbotsford where I grew up. Experiences with my family taught me to value environmental conservation. 
“Before I decided to pursue a career in fisheries, I graduated from the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) with a Diploma of Technical Studies, and went on to work as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer. This career afforded me the opportunity to travel all over the B.C. coast. Witnessing this province’s beauty in some of its most remote ecosystems instilled in me a drive to protect our wilderness.
“Through a stroke of luck, I landed a summer job in salmonid enhancement, and was immediately hooked. I decided to switch careers, and am currently progressing through my second year at Vancouver Island University’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Diploma Program. My aspiration is to dedicate my career to the health of B.C.’s fish stocks and aquatic habitats so generations to come will have the opportunity to spend time fishing with their families. I feel extremely honoured and humbled to be receiving this scholarship from the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC.”

Gillian Steele

“Having spent many years immersed in the sport fishing world, I have witnessed first-hand the challenges faced not only by our recreational industry but by the species closest to our hearts. I made a promise to myself that fisheries, angling opportunities, and fish populations vital to the diversity of our province remain available to the descendants of my children’s children. My entire life has depended on British Columbia’s unparalleled natural diversity, and my role in this life would not be complete if I didn’t make every effort to protect it.
“I have worked at our family-run tackle shop in North Vancouver since I was in high school, and have always had a love of angling. As a young girl I eagerly pursued my dad down various rivers. I take every opportunity available to explore new water or target a new fishery. I have fished throughout the province as well as throughout the world, having been fortunate enough to take my passions internationally. I am an avid fly fisher as well as gear angler, and spread my time between trout, salmon, and steelhead.
“When not angling or working, I spread myself out quite thinly; however, I would not have it any other way. I am currently a Director for the Steelhead Society of British Columbia, whose mandate is to protect wild steelhead populations and their river systems in our great province. I have been with this organization since 2014, and the focus of the Society is deep in my heart. Finally, I am one of the founders of the BC Women’s Fly-Fishing Group (BCWFFG), which looks to promote the networking of female fly fishers in B.C. We provide educational content for our members as well as ladies-only trips and a safe environment to learn. The BCWFFG has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had to date, and something I look forward to every day.
“In 2012 I graduated from Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Geography. After several years of working and fishing, I began to feel the urge to push myself and take on the task of making sure our favourite places are around for generations to come. I applied for the Fish, Wildlife, and Recreation program at BCIT because of the glowing reviews from friends who had passed through the program, as well as the reputation of BCIT. I was not disappointed, and look forward to my second year. A huge thanks goes out to the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC for this scholarship and supporting not only my education, but also my passion.”
Philip Lemp

“Fishing has been my greatest passion in life for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories have been of me on a dock with my eyes glued to my bobber waiting for a fish to bite. Over the years I have been very fortunate to experience many of the amazing fisheries B.C. has to offer. Growing up in the Lower Mainland, chasing salmon in the coastal waters off Vancouver and sturgeon on the mighty Fraser River, are experiences that hold a special place in my heart. I have always wanted to dedicate my life to giving back to the resource that has given me so much joy.

“I graduated with an undergraduate degree in Environmental Resource Management from Simon Fraser University in the spring of 2021. For the past four summers I have worked as a Learn to Fish instructor with the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC. This job has allowed me to pass on my love of angling to others. It has been such an honour to be a part of so many people’s first fishing experiences. The joy I see in these new anglers is a constant reminder of how special fishing is. I would be perfectly content teaching people how to fish for the rest of my life, and seeing their faces light up when they catch their first fish, but I know that I am capable of doing more. I have decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Environmental Resource Management at Simon Fraser University with a focus on Recreational Fisheries Management. I hope to one day bring the skills I learn during my Master’s degree back to the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC to help improve the sustainably and accessibility of B.C.’s fisheries.”

Authors: Alyssa Nonis, Jesse Huizenga, Gillian Steele, Philip Lemp. 
Photos: Alyssa Nonis, Jesse Huizenga, Gillian Steele, Philip Lemp.