ELKHART — Tyler Brenneman grew up fishing at the pond behind his home in Goshen, but now he may be turning that love into a career.
The 2013 graduate of Bethany Christian High School is one of 25 students from North America selected to participate in the 2013 Hutton Junior Fisheries Biology Program, an innovative education program sponsored by the American Fisheries Society. Each student chosen for the program is awarded a $3,000 scholarship and is matched with a professional mentor for a summer-long, hands-on experience in fisheries science to stimulate interest in the industry, according to information from the program.
Brenneman is working this summer with Daragh Deegan, aquatic biologist with the city of Elkhart, surveying and sampling fish in waterways in Elkhart and St. Joseph counties. This fall, Brenneman will begin at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., as a biology major.
“I’ve always loved fishing,” he said. The summer opportunity provides him a chance to work with fish daily and learn more how water affects fish’s survival.
“More different species of fish and the quantity (of them) takes better water quality,” he said.
Deegan explained that while he, Brenneman and three college interns with natural resources-related majors also take water samples to test the chemical composition of streams, “that doesn’t provide a complete picture of water quality.”
“The numbers and the types of fish can tell you how healthy the stream is,” Deegan said. Looking at the fish populations in Christiana Creek in Elkhart Friday, June 21, Deegan said that they “consider this to be sort of the gem of Elkhart County.”
The group had sampled about 20 species Friday, measuring and weighing the fish, taking scale samples of some to test for age later in a lab and tagging some to allow others who catch them later to call a phone number and report that fish’s length and weight. Christiana Creek stands out in Elkhart County for its cleanliness and low E. coli count, Deegan said.
Brenneman and his dad, Conrad Brenneman, had volunteered to help Deegan some last summer, so Deegan said he knew Brenneman would be a good addition to the summer crew.
“It’s really exciting to have Tyler on board,” he said, noting how competitive the Hutton program is. “We’re really happy to have him.”
Brenneman is the son of Conrad and Deb Brenneman.