This is the next entry in a series of blog posts by guest writers sharing how fishing has impacted their lives and shaped their views on the environment.

By Ben Veysey, MHCC Fisheries student

Hello, my name is Ben and I’m a first year student at Mt. Hood Community College, majoring in Fisheries Technology.  I’ve always loved to fish and spend time outside, especially on or around lakes, rivers, and really any body of water, but the thought of getting a degree in Fisheries and pursuing a career involved in fish and wildlife hadn’t always occurred to me.  In fact, it wasn’t until the past couple years that I learned such programs exist.  However, once I did discover this career path, a lightbulb went off in my head.  My experiences fishing, and generally spending the majority of my time as a kid and adult outside have had lasting effects on how I feel about the environment, and ultimately let me down this path in pursuing a career in fisheries.

Having grown up a few years prior to the rise of social media and the technological takeover that many of us live in today, I spent most of my youth lost in the woods.  This was an easy task for me, having grown up in the backwoods of a small town in Vermont, I would find my way home at dusk to the sound of my parents calling.  In the woods behind my house, there was a small creek, that was home to many native Brook Trout.  I would hear stories of my uncle bringing back loads of them as a kid to be cooked up by the family, and it always intrigued me.  I would spend hours fishing back there, catching one or two on a good day, but always wondering how he ever managed to bring back enough for an entire family! As I grew older I began traveling to fish areas around town and to those towns nearby.  As I would fish streams, rivers, and lakes I always tried to talk to people fishing to get some tips on where the fish liked to hang out within the body of water we were at, as well as gather information on what my next spot should be.  I received plenty of great advice, always with the same catch – “but it’s not what it used to be”.  It took a bit for me to understand why these places never seemed to be as good as they used to be, but as I began to understand the effects of pollution, development, and a general lack of consideration for wildlife and the environment, it all made sense.  People were ruining the best fishing spots!  As I fished popular areas, cans, fishing line, tires, trash – anything that didn’t belong –  began to distinctly stand out to me in a horrible way.  Even if I spent half my time cleaning up the trash left by others I would still come back the next week to find it just as bad.  And this is in a small town in a tiny little state!  It pained me to think about the creek behind my house, and how quickly it was able to decline when not taken care of.  It bothered me to think of all the fish that had died, and had been unable to produce future generations due to the carelessness of the people around me.  I would always think “someone has to do something about this!!”.  So I did what I could, which was essentially become the unpaid janitor for the high traffic fishing areas around my little home town.  I’m not sure how much of a difference it made, but it sure felt good.  It was frustrating, and not always fun, but it never failed to feel incredible seeing it all cleaned up.







Ultimately, these experiences left me with a strong desire to work for an organization or agency that took care of the environment.  I knew I could pick up trash every day if it would make for a better home for fish, and everything around them.  The journey I’ve been on since leaving Vermont in 2020 and moving to the Pacific Northwest in search of new adventures has been unlike any I’ve been on before.  Beginning with a seasonal job working the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, where I learned of the Fisheries Program at Mt. Hood Community College.  I knew right away that this program was right for me, and since enrolling it hasn’t disappointed.  Spending hours of class time almost every week in the field, handling and identifying all sorts of species of fish, learning to read and asses their habitat from a variety of perspectives, and discussing how to maintain and improve it… what more could I ask for!  Now, halfway through my time in school, I was hired on permanent with WDFW, a dream job in my eyes.  I get to work with individuals who feel the same way I do, and would do anything to preserve the natural world.  I’ve only just began this exciting new path, and each day I look forward to discovering how I can leave the planet better than I found it.  The more I learn about fish as I go through school, the more I realize how much we’ve done to hurt them, and how much they need our help.
Ben is a student in the Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC) Fisheries Program. Columbia Springs proudly partners with the MHCC Fisheries Program. Check out their website for more information.