Tyler Wallin '15
• Pre-professional biology major
• Senior from Mascoutah, Illinois
• Student Government Association
President, Fall 2014
• Sigma Zeta Math and Science Honor
• Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society
• Advanced Leaders group
• New Student Orientation leader
• Student Ambassador
Tyler Wallin spent the summer as a fisheries management intern with the National Forest
Service in the wilderness of Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. The McKendree biology major
was chosen from a nationwide pool of applicants for one of only two positions in the
area offered by The Student Conservation Association.
From June to August, Tyler surveyed small creeks and streams to assess freshwater fish populations in the Sawtooth Forest. The ongoing project monitors Bull Trout and Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout and the effects of human interaction on their environment and distribution. Its findings are important for the preservation of threatened and endangered species of trout and salmon.
“It’s a place where man is only a visitor and primitive skills are the only means of transportation or management. Not even bikes are allowed in the wilderness and fire and trail crews must use hand tools when they work within the wilderness boundary.”
At sunrise, Tyler and his crew would load up their rig and head into the field to
electrofish sites 100 meters long. Biologists and fisheries managers use the technique
to learn about fish populations. A small jolt of current stuns the fish temporarily
so they can be collected, measured, identified, and returned to the water unharmed.
“We would measure and identify each fish, sometimes as many as 300 in a single reach, and take a variety of habitat measurements,” Tyler explained. “At some sites we repeated this three times over the same reach. A site could take up to two hours and we tried to finish at least three to four per day.”
Work days were long - up to 12 hours - and strenuous in the thin mountain air. Tyler hiked up to 13 miles a day carrying 35 to 40 lbs. of equipment over rough terrain. “Acclimating to the air at 6,275 feet and higher was no easy feat but it was rewarding to be able to not only get by, but to thrive in this environment,” he said.
The internship has opened doors for Tyler in the Forest Service. “I arrived with an open mind and an eager imagination, and I think that is why I have been so successful in networking and making connections that have created not only great friendships, but resources to help me in the next stages of my life. I hope to continue my study of fisheries next spring and summer in a much larger region-wide project and then hopefully continue on to get my graduate degree in fishery management.”
Learn more about McKendree University and the Biology program.