Fish Hatchery Internship Inspires MCLA Junior to Dive Deeper into Fish Culture and Environmental Science

For Nathan Haley, a junior at MCLA, a routine semester transformed into an immersive journey into the world of fish culture. As an Environmental Science major, Haley spent the Fall ‘23 semester interning at the Bennington Fish Culture Station, which not only deepened his understanding of aquatic ecosystems but also ignited a passion for fish culture that he envisions as a potential career path after graduation.

"I have become much more interested in learning about the concept of fish culture. And it feels nice knowing you are raising fish which avid fishers truly appreciate, as this job contributes greatly to the trout population," Haley said.

Nathan Haley stands with a largemouth bass he caught while ice fishing at Sadawga Lake in Vermont.

The internship, conducted twice a week for a semester, exposed Haley to the intricate world of fish culture, where mathematical precision and daily skill tests are the norm. The hands-on experience not only bolstered his academic knowledge but also fueled a newfound passion for the field.

Beyond the technical aspects, Haley found immense value in the interpersonal dynamics at the fish hatchery. Working closely with a team of professionals, he realized the importance of collaboration and unity when addressing the challenges posed by the field. The internship taught Haley how shared efforts can make a significant impact.

"Working with others was a major takeaway for me with this internship as it makes life easier with teamwork," Haley said. "Dealing with the public, visitors, and other employees was quite the experience, and I cannot express how grateful I am for this opportunity."  

Haley emphasized the camaraderie within MCLA's Environmental Science department, describing it as a close-knit family where shared passions lead to lifelong friendships. The internship served as a bridge between academic studies and real-world applications, providing Haley with a holistic perspective on environmental science.

"This is something that I have been wanting to do for a while now, so I am glad I got the chance to finally do it. The environmental department is by far the best department on campus, and everyone becomes a family. You will spend lots of time with people within your major and become close friends with them as well," Haley said.

As he looks toward post-graduate life, Haley envisions a career as a fish culture specialist, with a newfound appreciation for the complexities of the field and a sense of purpose fueled by environmental conservation.

MCLA’s Environmental Studies Program provides students with hands-on real-world knowledge through partnerships with state and local organizations as early as their freshman year. It allows students to see the world from multiple perspectives and prepares graduates to successfully adapt to the evolving demands of careers in the environmental field.