Mike was very interested in science, even at an early age. In grade school he was always fascinated with living things, and in high school he enjoyed taking as many science classes as were offered. A basketball scholarship took Mike to Friends University in Wichita, Kansas, where for four years he majored in biology and minored in chemistry. After earning his bachelor of science degree, he immediately pursued three years of graduate school at Kansas State University. Although science is the backbone of his profession, Mike relies heavily on communication skills and believes any classes focusing on writing or speaking are also very important to his job.
Work Experiences and Internships:
Although many fisheries biologists work temporarily for several years before being hired full time, Mike was hired for a full-time job directly out of graduate school. He did, however, hold a job as a research assistant in graduate school, and prior to that he had several different part-time jobs which helped him learn construction and maintenance skills.
Activities and Organizations:
Participation in Boy Scouts consumed a great deal of Mike's youth and he eventually made it to the Scouts' highest rank, Eagle Scout. He was also actively engaged in sports which helped him earn an athletic scholarship in college. Today, Mike is a member of the American Fisheries Society and works closely with Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever.
Setbacks and Obstacles:
Mike considers himself very fortunate to have faced few obstacles in his professional life. Perhaps the greatest struggle he confronted was choosing between being a marine biologist and a profession that would more likely allow him to remain in his native state. Through most of his early years he felt that marine biology was the field for him. As he began to look towards the future he realized it would be difficult to pursue a marine biology profession and still make his home in the Midwest. He carefully weighed his priorities and decided to pursue the career of a fisheries biologist in the Midwest.
Mike has always been motivated by science and nature. Outdoor adventures with his family and his participation in the Boy Scouts allowed him to gain an appreciation for the natural world around him. Mike was motivated by his family to continue his education after high school. He also believes one of his greatest professional motivators was a dynamic college professor who had a Ph.D. in fisheries.
As far back as Mike can remember, he has always dreamed about a career working with fish. He recalls being inspired by watching programs about the famous oceanographer, Jacques Cousteau. Mike started down the path to his dream in sixth grade when he educated his class about fish by actually bringing real fish parts to class!