Trout Lake Station welcomes Gretchen Gerrish as its new director
By Lori Adler
While Trout Lake Station has been in operation for close to 100 years, newly appointed station director, Gretchen Gerrish, has only been in charge since June of this year. Though new to the role, she is not new to the station.
Gerrish has a background filled with a vast amount of experience. While not originally from the Northwoods, Gerrish spent two summers at Trout Lake Station back in the late 90s doing undergraduate research while attending Lawrence University in Appleton. “That was one of the formative experiences that led me into the world of aquatic biology,” she said.
Gerrish’s research involves zooplankton, microscopic animals that are the link between algae and fish. She studies how they evolve and adapt in response to ecological change both in freshwater and marine settings. Her research has taken her to field stations all over country, including working as assistant director at University of Notre Dame’s field station in Montana. Gerrish also spent time at Notre Dame’s field station in Land O’Lakes, doing research and helping with the undergraduate program.
Teaching has been an important part of Gerrish’s career. In fact, the past nine years of her life have been spent as a professor at UW-LaCrosse. Though she enjoyed the position, she felt she had more to offer students than the classroom could provide.
“I love teaching, it’s great, but I’m more inspired by mentorship and nature-led inquiry,” Gerrish said. “I feel like the mentorship that you get and the teaching that you get when you’re hands-on in the field is where those formative experiences happen for students. I did a lot of that in my classroom teaching in La Crosse, but I think I was reaching that point where I had to decide, are there opportunities that I can up that, both for myself and other people that are trying to work on that mission.”
Gerrish explained that field stations nationwide had a period of leveling off and even some decline.
“So the idea of being able to work at one that is really robust and to help maintain it is really what drove me to apply,” Gerrish said. “Of course, it’skind of neat that it is my full circle to come back to the place that inspired me as a student.”
Gerrish is thoroughly enjoying her return to the Northwoods and everything the area has to offer. She and her family have settled into their new home not far from the station. And while right now she is simply learning about the day-to-day activities of the station, she is looking forward to the many new and exciting things to come.