One Registered Student Organization plunges under the water.
The SIU American Fisheries Society subunit is composed of approximently 30 undergraduate and graduate students, said Jeffrey Hillis, SIU fisheries subunit president. The society’s focus is to conduct community outreach and support, but members also host various events, attend conferences and are Illinois American Fisheries Society participants, he said.
Hillis said the RSO’s undergraduate enrollment increased last semester, but any new members are always welcome.
“We are open for anyone to join,” he said. “Anyone interested in fisheries, aquaculture, aqua sciences, zoology or animal behavior is enouraged to join, but we are specifically focused on fish management and fisheries.”
RSO members automatically join the American Fisheries Society’s university chapter, Hillis said.
“It’s a good way for undergraduates get experience and talk to graduate students about fisheries. It is really a fun profession. It is a great way to be outdoors and enjoy what you do as a job.”
Hillis said the university subunit holds the Carp-a-thon, an annual event the RSO created last year to raise invasive Asian Carp species awareness. The event has a small entry fee and encourages participants
to capture as many carp as possible, he said.
“Anything we can do to help that movement to get people to stop spreading Asian carp is part of what we do,” Hillis said.
Carlin Fenn, the secretary and treasurer of the SIU subunit, said the university organization also holds an annual fish fry. University fisheries and the Illinois Aquaculture Center receive the proceeds, she said.
However, the group may consider a fish fry schedule change to coincide with local events such as the student center’s weekly Summer Sunset concert series or Friday Night Fairs, Fenn said.
“We would get more outreach and more visibility at those events than at the docks, because at the docks people who come are usually people just walking by,” she said.
Fenn said the subunit also participates in Urban Fishing, an Illinois Department of Natural Resources program that helps young children learn how to fish. The RSO also lab tours, she said.
“It’s a very hands-on and applied job,” she said. “Many events our subunit puts on could give students
more skills to put in their arsenal for a career someday.”
Electro-fishing, a sampling technique used to evaluate how many and what fish types are in a specific water habitat sample, is another technique the RSO demonstrates, Fennsaid.
“What we do is pertinent to a future career,” she said.
The RSO often helps undergraduate students enter graduate school and network in their field, Fenn said.
Anthony Porreca, the organization’s vice president, said enjoyable activities include graduate student research assistance and electro-fishing.
“It is really cool for undergraduate students to see that when they otherwise never would have experienced it,” Porreca said.
Hillis said the RSO requires a $10 entry fee, but a student can contact any of the club officers’ email adresses or visit the SIU subunit website fishstudent.rso.siu.edu if he or she wants to join.
He said the group’s next meeting will be Jan. 31.