- Since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a fisheries biologist--education was never even given a thought, even though both my parents were teachers. To that end, I hold a bachelors degree in fisheries management from the University of Wisconsin-Steven's Point, and a master's degree in the same from the University of Georgia. I worked in the profession for several years (see #2 below) but a lack of jobs, coupled with the election of an administration that did not exactly favor environmental issues, ended my short-lived career as an aquatic biologist. I don't regret a minute of any of it, as I fulfilled my end of what I needed to do-it just didn't work out. That's life.
- I worked several years for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Georgia and South Carolina. My job was to trap and radio track Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus-some as large as 300 pounds-the Savannah record is over 800 lbs!) and Shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) in the Savannah River from Savannah to Augusta, Georgia. I will never, ever camp again-I've camped on enough shorelines and sand bars to last a lifetime. I've been chased by alligators, harassed by bobcats, and threatened by snakes (both poisonous and non-poisonous) in addition to being shot at by poachers. We would catch the sturgeon with large gill nets, open up their body cavity with a scalpel, and insert a radio transmitter, and suture them back up. Sometimes this was done at 2 a.m. and with an angry 300 pound fish in the boat, made for an awesome experience.
- I've taught over 2200 young adults biology in 15 years of classroom teaching at Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora, Illinois (10 years) and Downers Grove North High School (5 years). I had the great fortune of teaching with my Dad (Art Teacher) for two years before he retired-the kids referred to us as Mr. Jakes Sr. or Mr. Jakes Jr. or Mr. Jakes Downstairs or Mr. Jakes Upstairs (me).
- My future includes returning to the classroom from my administrative role (Instructional Technology Coordinator) just so I can get my hands on these new tools with my own kids.
- I'll retire in 13 short years, where I will undoubtedly head to the Traverse City, Michigan region, which is one of my favorite places on Earth, and where they produce 75% of the tart cherry crop in the United States (everything there has cherry in it, including bratwurst and cheeseburgers). It's also at the 45th Parallel, exactly like the wine region of France, so there are many vineyards and wineries. The water, pine, spruce and hardwoods, interspersed with the cherry orchards and vineyards creates an amazing landscape. If you ever have a chance to visit the region, don't miss Traverse, Charlevoix, Leland, Suttons Bay and Great Sleeping Bear National Seashore (watch out for cougars!). See my Flickr photoset, My Traverse City, here.
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