UMM’s Alumni Spotlight shines this week on Derik Lee of Grand Lake Stream, Maine. Derik is a 2010 UMM graduate, originally from Skowhegan, Maine, with a degree in Environmental Studies. He is currently a Fish Culturist with Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Tell us a little bit about what you are doing now:
Along with the general facility maintenance my job entails multiple aspects of fish husbandry,general care, feeding, cleaning, and monitoring of fish health and quality throughout the year. In the fall we do a bit of fall stocking, we also trap net for Landlocked Salmon from West Grand Lake using nets and spawn the fish for the next years stock of production fish. Our facility provides the majority of the salmon that get stocked out in the state of Maine. Through the remainder of the fall and winter we continue to care for the fish we have on station as well as monitoring and picking through the eggs from our newest year class of fish. In the spring we gear up for the stocking season, most of the fish stocking that we do is in Washington and Hancock counties. We also stock fish in portions of Penobscot, Piscatiquis, and Aroostook counties. Once the spring stocking is finished and the eggs from the previous fall have hatched out and grown large enough we transfer the new stock of fish from our hatchery to our raceways where the process begins anew.
What is the most valuable thing you learned while at UMM?
If I had to choose one thing I would have to say the hands on learning experience. I found most of my coursework was a hands on approach and many of the labs were in the field.
Do you have any advice for current students at UMM?
Make the most of your time while at UMM before you know it, you will be getting ready to graduate. The people that get the most out of their time at UMM are the ones that have fun. Get good at problem solving and finding solutions on your own, but don’t be afraid to ask for help when you genuinely need it. You won’t always have someone there to provide you with solutions so it is helpful to be able to think quick when you have to. As always build yourself a network and try to maintain those relationships, you never know who you might meet or already know that can provide you with an opportunity. Learn from every experience whether they be good, bad, or questionable. Those experiences and events in your life will define who you are and how you handle situations.
How did your time at UMM prepare you for what you are doing now?
Many of my classes at UMM helped to prepare me after graduating. Certainly much of the coursework, the work in the field with a hands on approach has helped me along the way. Many people at UMM always stressed how important it is to network with people and maintain those connections, that is certainly something that anyone can take away from their time at UMM. There certainly wasn’t any one singular thing that prepared me for the future, but it was my experience at UMM as a whole that is one of the building blocks that started laying the foundation for where I am currently.
How has UMM made a positive impact on your life?
Not only did my time at UMM help prepare me for my future, but the people that I met while at UMM, professors, fellow students, others that I met through different organizations have definitely made a positive impact on me. Many people say that the best memories they have of their time at Machias are those with the friends they made, that is true with me. I definitely made lasting friendships with a multitude of people, and am the better for it. Plus the fishing was pretty good.