Stout senior discovers sustainable agriculture in a local fishery | Dunn County News


Goers Abbey UW-Stout

Bumper stickers make a car stand out, grab the attention of drivers, and grab attention. It is a unique art form and a means of expression for travelers. They are also a smart marketing tool.

“Eat My Fish” is a sticker recognized by many people in Dunn County, including Brennan Wheeldon, senior in environmental science at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Growing up in Boyceville, Wheeldon remembers seeing the green and yellow stickers for the first time when he was in kindergarten.

“It’s a little ugly and weird, but it works,” Wheeldon said.

Eat My Fish – it’s memorable. But what does that mean? That’s the tagline for Jeremiah’s Bullfrog Fish Farm, a local fishery and hatchery south of Menomonie, where visitors can fish for rainbow trout and enjoy a freshly caught lunch.

Wheeldon recently completed a four month field experience at the fish farm, volunteering 20 hours a week as a fishing helper.

A sustainable and restorative economic model

Wheeldon is passionate about environmental science. This is an area he believes is relevant to the care and recovery of the Earth. But he did not start his college career in the program. ES is in fact the third major in which it is registered; he started in manufacturing engineering, then moved on to applied biochemistry and molecular biology.

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Originally, Wheeldon wanted to be an engineer – his father works at 3M. “But I can’t work in a cement building. I need to be outside. I’m a big biology nerd, ”he said.

Wheeldon is interested in sustainability and specializes in aquatic biology. When it came time to look for a field experience, he remembered the green and yellow stickers he had seen in the city as a child. He believes Jeremiah’s Bullfrog Fish Farm is the perfect example of a sustainable local business strategy.

The fish farm is owned by Jeremiah Fredrickson, who bought the business five years ago after teaching agricultural science at Elk Mound for 16 years. “I kind of accidentally bought it on purpose,” said Fredrickson. “I was looking for something new and different. I saw an ad in the Leader-Telegram saying the farm was for sale and thought it would be an opportunity.

Wheeldon worked with Director of Fisheries Dave Sundal, helping with aquatic fish health, feeding, water quality and environmental sanitation, pond management and fish processing. for sale.

The fish farm mainly raises rainbow trout, but has also bred brown trout, sunfish and bullhead in recent years. She raises, produces and processes fish – from eggs to selling meat, with an average of 15,000 to 20,000 pounds of fish each year.

“They have a fantastic ability to raise a wide variety of fish,” said Wheeldon. “It’s a small business that demands a bit of everything. The family does a lot. They dedicate their life to the farm and have built a beautiful place.

Wheeldon took an ichthyology course alongside his field experience. This has helped him understand the anatomy of trout, the type of environment they need, and how their growth rate is affected by water quality and temperature.

He believes that part of the success of fish farming in raising quality trout is due to the fact that it is located in a unique ecological area in the Dunnville Funds, near the confluence of the Red Cedar and Chippewa rivers.

“We’re also in the non-drift region, where the glaciers jumped,” Wheeldon said. “We have hills and deciduous forests. All kinds of small micro-ecosystems. It is the gold mine of small trout streams outside the Rockies.

Growing up in a farming community, Wheeldon saw the negative impact farms can have on the environment. He enjoys the fish farm’s gravity-fed water supply system, which constantly circulates water to the outdoor tanks. It also has its own wetland.

“The fish farm is so good at planting what it has,” Wheeldon said. “It makes the water cleaner than what it takes out. The water system purifies the water. It is an excellent restoration for the region.

Wheeldon is the second student volunteer to work on the fish farm. “It was a good experience for us,” said Fredrickson. “Brennan is an interesting guy. He was delighted to learn and share his knowledge.

Environmental Science Program Director Mandy Little agrees. “Brennan is one of those great kids to have in the classroom. He always takes responsibility for his own learning and will go far in life thanks to his great academic and interpersonal skills.

The Wheeldon field experience was part of the UW-Stout Co-op and Internship Program, which provides students with the opportunity to apply program knowledge to enhance learning and career preparation. through skills development, said Bethany Henthorn, director of the career services cooperative.

“Ninety-seven percent of students who enroll in CEIP believe they are getting a competitive advantage over those who don’t,” she added.

The coordination of field experiences is new for Career Services – the office started management in the fall of 2020. It has been managing cooperatives since 1982, while field experiences were managed at the department level.

“There was variation among the requirements,” Henthorn said. “With CEIP, we can centralize management and ensure consistency for students and employers. Co-op programs and field experiences provide variety to our students in terms of types of work experiences.

Wheeldon also has a full time job as a carpenter, doing home renovations with Corkscrew Ridge LLC. Although his field experience at the fish farm was a volunteer position, which made it difficult at first not to get paid, he still looked forward to going to work every day.

“Volunteering was a personal decision,” he said. “It was a challenge because there are always five other things to do. You are still catching up in fishing. But it’s more of a way of life than a job. It’s very calming and a great working environment.

Wheeldon believes there is a misconception that environmental science is too specialized. “But the nugget of truth is that ES is so large. You are exposed to so many opportunities and the world around you. You can find out what you want to do and what you are passionate about. The program gives you a home- self.

Wheeldon will be graduating in the fall of 2022 and plans to earn his master’s degree, possibly in conservation, environmental landscaping, fisheries management or water quality, which is essential to human survival, a he declared.

“The field of environmental science is one of the fastest growing fields in America, even though we are so far behind the rest of the world in terms of what we do,” he added. . “It’s very politicized. I want to understand how to better stand out in the company, especially in a capitalized company.

To register for CEIP, the first step that students take if they wish to obtain credits for a position they have landed, is to begin the course registration process by reporting the position in the Coop et internship portal. .

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