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Undergraduate Student

Hunter Hatcher

Fish Conservation

Expected Graduation Date: May 2016

I grew up in Spotsylvania, a rural area in central Virginia. From a young age I enjoyed spending time outdoors and quickly fell in love with hunting and fishing. Early on I knew that I wanted to attend Virginia Tech. I first fell in love with the football team and as I learned about the atmosphere in Blacksburg and the academic programs, the more I knew I wanted to make Virginia Tech my home. I came to Blacksburg in the fall of my freshman year with the goal of pursuing a degree in engineering. I quickly realized I needed a change and I fell back on my love of hunting and fishing. I changed my major to sh conservation and it didn’t take long for me to realize I had made the right decision.

My first exposure to actual fisheries work came following my freshman year. I worked as a volunteer with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries under John Odenkirk and Steve Owens. I participated in northern snakehead electrofishing and trout electrofishing and quickly fell in love with fieldwork. The summer after my sophomore year I worked with Virginia Tech’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation under Dr. Donald Orth studying Clinch dace in the Clinch River of southwestern Virginia. Exposure to experimental design and research methods provided valuable experience and insight, which I hope to put to use in the future. The summer after my junior year I returned to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries as a fisheries technician under John Odenkirk and Mike Isel. Conducting creel surveys on the Potomac River focused on northern snakeheads served as my primary responsibility. I learned about the importance of stakeholder opinions in resource management and the difficulty in satisfying the needs a wide range of resource users. I also participated in various field projects focusing on everything from northern snakeheads and blue cat sh in Virginia’s tidal rivers to trout in cold-water streams.

During my time here at Virginia Tech I’ve learned a great deal about the field of sh conservation. I’ve learned about experimental design, data collection, and data analysis. But I haven’t yet learned about how to lead others and become a more effective team member. As a member of this year’s Leadership institute, I will have the opportunity to develop these skills while learning a great deal about myself. I hope to put all of these skills to use as I pursue a master’s degree upon completion of my bachelor’s in the spring of 2016. Ultimately I would like to work for a state or federal agency as a fisheries biologist, working to protect and preserve the same resources that sparked my love of the outdoors.

Honors and Awards

  • Dean’s List, fall 2014-spring 2015
  • Treasurer, American Fisheries Society, 2014-15
  • President, American Fisheries Society, 2015-16

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