Three Students Awarded Scholarships for Academic Year

August 28, 2023
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Since 2008, the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC has awarded $84,500 in scholarships to 51 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 B.C. Students at all levels of post-secondary study were eligible.

Here are the three students selected for the 2023-24 academic year:

Nicole Ure

Growing up in South Surrey, B.C., Nicole Ure always loved nature and the outdoors. Ure’s time spent on Vancouver Island and kayaking with her dad in the Broken Group Islands as a child fostered their love for the ocean. This led to Ure earning a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where their studies included a research project on long-finned pilot whale behaviour.

“I have loved marine animals ever since I saw my first humpback whale as a child. It wasn’t until I began my Fish, Wildlife, and Recreation Diploma at the B.C. Institute of Technology (BCIT) when I discovered my passion for fish and interest in their diverse life history and habitat needs,” says Ure. “Working with the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. this summer has taught me so much about fish rearing and care. My career goals have shifted towards enhancing freshwater fisheries to conserve natural populations and protect the sensitive habitats many marine and freshwater animals need to thrive.”

Ure spent the summer working as a Junior Fish Culture Technician at the Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery, where they learned more about culturing rainbow trout and steelhead, spawning broodstock fish, and problem-solving to improve fish health and well-being. The most rewarding part of the job for Ure was releasing the fish she helped to raise and watching them swim away in their new homes. Ure is now in their final year of the Fish, Wildlife, and Recreation program at BCIT, with the goal of continuing a career in the field of fish conservation and enhancement.

Siobhan Striegler Klassen

“I am in my second year at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, where I am studying Physical Geography and Environmental Science. I was born and raised in Vanderhoof BC, in the Nechako watershed on the unceded traditional territory of the Saik’uz First Nation. I grew up on the shores of Sinkut Lake, where I fostered a love of water and the life it breathes into the landscape. I have always loved the outdoors, and from a young age I have spent my time hiking, biking, canoeing/ kayaking, swimming, and of course, fishing with my family and friends. 

For the last three summers, I have worked at the Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre, first as a Research and Outreach Assistant, then as an Outreach and Junior Research Technician. Working with the Nechako White Sturgeon has created a strong connection between myself and the fish- including their habitat: the regulated and highly dramatic Nechako River. Learning more about the sturgeon and how the changes to their habitat because of the Kenney Dam have affected their population influenced my decision to study Geography and Environmental Science at university. I plan to gain as much experience as I can throughout my post-secondary studies, and to follow a career path that keeps me outside and benefits the environment in some way.”

Lauren Aghabozorgi

Lauren hails from Montreal, Quebec (Tiohtià:ke traditional Kanien’kehá:ka Mohawk territory) and made the big move to the West Kootenays (Kaia’mElEp traditional sn̓ʕay̓čkstx Sinixt territory) last year to study Fish & Wildlife at Selkirk College. Growing up in the city, Lauren was not exposed to recreational fishing early on. Her real introduction to the underwater world began when she started scuba diving. Setting her eyes upon the marine ecosystems of Central America peaked a long-standing interest in aquatic life.

Back on home ground, Lauren’s studies have led her to take a closer look at freshwater ecology. Living along the Kootenay and Columbia rivers, the importance of freshwater management within the most heavily dammed river system in North America has become exceptionally significant in Lauren’s life. She has been exploring the dilemma between society’s need for renewable energy and the impacts of damming to valuable fish habitat.

“I believe that fish play an important role as indicators of larger ecosystem health. Monitoring and maintaining fish populations is therefore crucial to our extensive freshwater systems. This is where I hope to focus my career.”

After completing her studies at Selkirk in spring 2024, Lauren plans to work in habitat and population restoration. Until then, she will be embracing every moment of her second and final year at Selkirk College, where she has been discovering the surrounding land through hands-on learning approaches under the guidance of her passionate teachers.