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Where Are They Now?

As Brule River Sportsmen's Club members, we sometime wonder how our past scholarship recipients are doing, especially considering the highly competitive natural resources job market. It's great to "catch up" with past recipients and read how much they appreciate the support the Club was able to provide through our scholarships. If you know a past recipient that we haven't heard from, ask them to get in touch with us! You can always contact us by clicking on Contact Us!

Jessica Brown

I completed my B.A. at Northland College in 2011, majoring in writing (I switched from environmental studies midway through my education).  My experiences at Northland, particularly studying nature writing and literature and canoeing in the Boundary Waters for credit, informed my passion for protecting the BWCA and my belief in the power of stories to inspire conservation efforts.  I also took courses in outdoor education, which gave me tools I still use today.  During summers in college, I used my certifications in environmental learning curricula such as Project Wild and Project Learning Tree to develop and deliver environmental education summer camp programs for the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys Council.

After graduation, I enrolled at the University of Idaho-Moscow for a graduate program in creative writing, although I decided not to complete the program.  After a year working in a student support position at St. John's Preparatory School in St. Cloud, MN, I started a master's degree in counseling education to become a school counselor, graduating in 2016.  During graduate school, I worked one summer for the Wisconsin DNR out of the Brule Ranger Station as a visitor associate.  I spent my first year as a professional school counselor at St. Mary's Catholic School in Olivia, MN.  I moved to La Crosse, WI to become the elementary school counselor at St. Patrick Elementary in the 2017 - 2018 school-year and have been there ever since.  I love my job.  My professional interests include the impact of time in nature and wilderness on mental health.  I'm currently developing environmental education programming for my students during Screen-Free Week this May.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my pursuits since college and for helping to put me through Northland College.  It was such a great experience.

24 October 2019

Jessica enjoying the Boundary Waters Canoe Area

Beth Holbrook

After receiving my Ph.D. in Water Resources Science from the University of Minnesota in 2011, I was hired as a Hydroacoustic Specialist in Fisheries at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR). My position involved using hydroacoustics (sound in water) to sample pelagic (off-shore) fish such as cisco, an indicator of water quality and an important forage species for predators. An additional component of my job involved assisting the Lake Superior Area Office with protocol development for collecting and analyzing hydroacoustic data used to estimate abundance and set quotas for the lake herring commercial fishing industry. In 2013, I was hired as a Fisheries Biologist at the MNDNR and my research expanded to include a number of other projects. Currently I am a Fisheries Scientist at the MNDNR and I continue to coordinate the statewide hydroacoustic program including providing support for the Lake Superior Area office. I am also starting a new collaborative project to learn more about yellow perch, an important forage species in Minnesota lakes that has been declining in size structure and/or abundance across the state.

I am grateful to the BRSC for investing in my graduate education (2007 scholarship recipient). Every day I’m appreciative of the opportunity to work in a job where I can ask interesting fisheries questions and use the skills I developed through education and experience to seek out answers. As a scientist and as the parent of two boys who are developing a (hopefully) lifelong interest in the outdoors, I’m also passionate about the BRSC’s values of preservation and habitat improvement. Protecting places such as the Brule River will be increasingly important for inspiring future generations to utilize, protect, and enhance our natural resources.

3 October 2018

Beth and her family enjoying Lake Superior

Brad Ray

In order to become a fisheries professional, you need two things, education and experience in the field. Education is expensive and experience in natural resources does not pay very much; therefore, the Brule River Sportsmen’s Scholarship is extremely beneficial to young professionals by allowing them to get the training needed to be competitive for natural resource positions. In 2000, I was honored to receive the scholarship from the Brule River Sportsmen’s Club, which became the key for me to not worry about the expense of college and gain the valuable experience that would start my career in fisheries. The summer after by sophomore year at Northland College, I was selected as the Lake Superior Fisheries Intern with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. As an intern I was paid, but also needed to pay for the additional college credits and off-campus housing, without the scholarship I may not have been able to take the low paying position that allowed me to gain the experience needed to begin my career as a fisheries professional. I am grateful to the Brule River Sportsmen’s Club for helping me reach my goals and am honored that I can now work with the club as a professional.

After graduating from Northland College, I continued my education at University of Minnesota-Duluth earning my M.S. in 2004. My Master’s research focused on the spatial and temporal trends in lake trout diets in Lake Superior from 1986-2001. I furthered my education, receiving a Ph.D. from Virginia Tech in 2008, studying largemouth bass recruitment issues in trophy reservoirs. Prior to my return to the Northwoods in May 2015 to work for the Wisconsin DNR, I served as an Associate Professor of Fisheries at the University of Tennessee at Martin. I am thrilled to currently work as a Fisheries Biologist on Lake Superior and be a member of the team where I started my career in 2000, with the help of the Brule River Sportsmen’s Club. The Brule River Sportsmen’s Club Scholarship helped build my confidence and allowed me to pursue my passion, and I am thankful for being a past recipient of this honor and am excited that the Club continues recognizing students as they are striving to reach their career goals.

August 4, 2017

Brad enjoying some smallmouth fishing on Chequamegon Bay

Tyler Kaspar

First, I want to thank the Brule River Sportsmen’s Club for the past scholarships (2010 and 2011). The scholarships were very generous and helped cover my graduate school fees. Previously, I had earned a BS degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). My major was biology with an emphasis on fisheries management. During my undergraduate career, I had worked for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (2005-2010) as a seasonal Fisheries Technician and gained valuable hands-on experience with improving salmonid spawning habitat on Lake Superior’s south shore tributaries (including the Brule River) and gained an understanding of what fisheries management entails. In July, 2012, I earned an MS degree from the Integrated Biosciences Graduate Program at UMD. My thesis focused on environmental factors in-stream and in Lake Superior that influence steelhead survival in the Knife (Minnesota) and Brule river populations. Since then, I have been working with the 1854 Treaty Authority as a Fish and Wildlife Technician (May – October, 2012) and an Environmental Specialist (October 2012 – present). The 1854 Treaty Authority is an inter-tribal natural resource management organization that manages the off-reservation hunting, fishing and gathering rights of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa and the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in the 1854 Ceded Territory (northeast Minnesota). My main job responsibilities are focused on addressing threats to resources in the Lake Superior basin including aquatic invasive species, climate change and industrial projects such as mining.

Thanks again for all of your support!

4 September 2015

Kaspar family at the 2015 MN State Fair: Tyler, Layla, Lexi (turning 7) and Blake (turning 2)

Dave Branstad

With the help of the generous scholarship from the Brule River Sportsmen’s Club, I graduated from the University of WI-Superior in the spring of 2004 with a Bachelor of Science degree. My major was biology with a concentration in fisheries science and aquatic biology. During college and after, I was able to work a number of different limited term jobs with the Natural Resources Research Institute in Duluth, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. College and my limited term jobs afforded me with a broad range of experiences, and I was hired full time in 2006 with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at the St. Croix Falls Fish Hatchery as a Fisheries Technician. The St. Croix Falls hatchery raises brook and brown trout that are stocked into the inland trout waters of Wisconsin. More recently I was promoted to the Foreman of the St. Croix Falls hatchery in 2012. Thanks again to the Brule River Sportsmen’s Club for providing a scholarship to help out with college tuition for myself and others to help reach our dreams over the years.

4 September 2014

Dave and his family

Club Note: Dave was a 2003 scholarship recipient.

Matt Weberg

I was the 2008 BRSC annual scholarship recipient as an undergraduate at UW-Superior. I completed my bachelor’s degree in 2009 majoring in Biology with a focus on aquatic biology. As a student at UW-Superior, I worked as a seasonal fisheries technician at the Brule River Fish Hatchery where I gained important experience in my field of study, and a lifelong connection to the Brule River. Upon graduation I worked for the 1854 Treaty Authority out of Duluth for two years as a fish and wildlife technician which included fisheries work on the St. Louis River, and in Lake and Cook County, Minnesota. In fall 2010, I began work as a contractor for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also in Duluth where I conducted experiments to evaluate the potential effects certain industrial chemicals may have on aquatic organisms. During summer 2011 I accepted a graduate assistantship at Virginia Tech, located in Blacksburg, VA, to earn a master’s degree in Fisheries Science. My research at Virginia Tech focused on the movement patterns and ecological effects of grass carp (an asian carp species) within a Appalachian Reservoir system. I completed my Masters of Science degree in October 2013, and almost simultaneously accepted a position with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as a Fisheries Specialist in the Grand Marais Fisheries Office. A major component of my work is focused on managing north shore trout streams, and I can certainly say that I am glad to be back in the Upper Midwest (just a short 2.5-hour drive from the Brule River). I hope to visit as much as possible! Thank you all so much for the assistance during the early stages of my education, and for the comradery I experienced during work days and meetings with the BRSC.

16 September 2014

Matt enjoying himself

To see a list of past scholarship recipients click on Past Recipients.