Since 2008, the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC has awarded $79,500 in scholarships to 48 students at various levels of post-secondary study. The scholarships recognize outstanding commitment to academic pursuits in the field of freshwater fisheries and are available to students enrolled in fish culture or natural resource management programs within a recognized post-secondary education institution in British Columbia. Applicants must have completed at least their first year of post secondary studies and plan to continue as a student, with the intent of establishing a career in BC. Students at all levels of post-secondary study were eligible.
Here are the five students selected for the 2022-23 academic year:
Alexis Seely – University of Northern BC
Northern BC’s rural landscapes were an inspiration for Alexis Seely who was awarded a scholarship to continue her biology studies at the University of Northern BC. Growing up in Vanderhoof cultivated a love of the rural outdoors for Seely, who discovered a passion for learning about the environment through a variety of recreational outdoor activities. Now entering her third year, Seely plans to attain a Registered Professional Biologist certification.
“Working with an endangered sturgeon species for the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC for the past three years has solidified my desire to work in preserving freshwater ecological systems” says Seely. “From the thrill of the outdoor workplace, to the 2 am spawning watch shift, every detail of my job has cultivated a deep love for not just sturgeon, but preserving the systems they live in.”
Megan Vander Wyk – University of the Fraser Valley
An interest in wildlife sparked by spending time outdoors became a career passion for Megan Vander Wyk. Growing up in Agassiz, Vander Wyk developed an interest in freshwater fishing through exploration of the outdoors around the Fraser River. An undergraduate of the University of the Fraser Valley, she is completing her Bachelor of Science with a major in Ecology and Biology of Organisms this year.
“My passion for protecting wildlife and interests in recreational angling drove me to pursue a career in ecology and conservation. In fact, I chose this career path the moment I had my first experience with a white sturgeon on the Fraser River,” says Vander Wyk. “The species’ prehistoric morphology, history, and conservation concern is intriguing and has caused me to think more critically about our impacts on aquatic ecosystems and species. This scholarship will support my continued studies and my goal to work in fisheries management and conservation.”
Vander Wyk spent the summer working as a Junior Fish Culture Technician with Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, expanding on her fish culture studies and adding to her knowledge.
Yvonne Gregory – Thompson Rivers University
Yvonne Gregory’s fascination with fish came from many summers spent camping and fishing with her dad on the Arrow Lakes. That early hands-on experience sparked an interest in finding out more about fish and fish habitat.
Gregory enrolled in the Recreation, Fish and Wildlife program at Selkirk College after graduating from high school and completed the program in 2021. The scholarship will support the next stage of her education as she begins her degree in Natural Resource Science at Thompson Rivers University.
“I am excited to learn more about the natural world and how it operates. The information I have gained so far in my education has been both fascinating and practical. I’m looking forward to learning more in the coming years,” says Gregory. “I have now spent two seasons as a Junior Fish Culture Technician at the Clearwater Trout Hatchery and I love it more and more as time goes on!”
Following the completion of her degree, Gregory plans to work in a variety of natural resource related jobs throughout the province before embarking on the next step in her career path.
Jenna Neilson – Vancouver Island University
Jenna Neilson is in her final year at Vancouver Island University, earning her Bachelor of Science majoring in Biology and minoring in Aquaculture. Her studies focused on fish health, including a research project on bacterial diseases in salmonid species to further understand fish biology. After graduation she plans to pursue a career in fish enhancement to restore dependable and sustainable fisheries in British Columbia.
“From an early age, I knew I wanted to work with aquatic organisms. My love and appreciation for both the outdoors and the animals in those spaces began in my hometown Maple Ridge,” says Neilson. “As I moved to Nanaimo BC, this passion of mine flourished. I have spent countless hours scouting out fishing spots, camping areas, and hiking trails all while expanding my knowledge and gratitude for the environment.”
For four consecutive summers Neilson has worked with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada in Stock Assessment and the Salmonid Enhancement Program, gaining hands on experience in fisheries management, fish culture, and conservation. In the summer of 2022 she worked with the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC at the Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery (FVTH) as a Seasonal Junior Fish Culture Technician, the highlight of which was the release of catchable rainbow trout into local lakes.
Jordan Hendriks – Vancouver Island University
Growing up in Abbotsford, Jordan Hendriks always had a close connection with the Fraser River and the organisms within it, especially the White Sturgeon. While attending Lethbridge College in the Natural Resource Compliance Diploma Program, Hendriks took a Fisheries Science class that changed her career path.
“I have always had an interest in aquatic ecosystems due to being able to witness salmon spawning right by my home during the fall. This kick started my passion for wanting to help protect and conserve the environment,” says Hendriks. “I discovered my passion for fisheries in the Fisheries Science class that I attended at Lethbridge College, which lead me to change career paths and direct my studies towards fish culture.”
Hendriks is now attending Vancouver Island University to study Fisheries and Aquaculture Technology. Her goal is to work on the conservation of the White Sturgeon in B.C. Over the summer she worked as a Learn to Fish Instructor at the Clearwater Trout Hatchery where she learned fish culturing basics while sharing her passion for freshwater fisheries with others.
Scholarship applications are typically accepted between mid-March and May 31 each year. Students interested in applying can find out more information on our website.