At a small school, connections are easily made, and countless doors can be opened by asking a few questions.
For natural resources major Michael Lant taking the initiative to reach out—mixed with a lot of hard work—has created countless opportunities for himself.
The senior, studying fisheries, grew up in southern Wisconsin where hunting, fishing, and lacrosse were influential parts of his life. When it came time to look for a college, Lant got some advice from his high school lacrosse coach: “you go to school for school, you don’t go for sports.”
Lant was being heavily recruited at multiple schools with lacrosse programs, but with his coach’s words still in the back of his mind, he chose Northland. “It was a better fit,” he said. “Northland was really the only school I knew I wanted to be at even if I couldn’t play lacrosse.”
The transition into college was not always easy. Confused about what to do in his degree and where to go, Lant asked his professor a question—where do I start? Professor Derek Ogle told him if he wanted to pursue fisheries he had to get serious. Lant took the advice and ran.
”The cool thing about Michael is that he is inquisitive,” said Ogle who is also Lant’s capstone advisor. “He’s always trying to make connections.”
The summer after his sophomore year, Lant worked with the Bayfield DNR where he gained hours of hands-on experience in the field. Some of that experience included setting gillnets on a research vessel, setting fyke nets, aging fish, electro-fishing, and entering data in a relational database to name a few tasks.
The summer after his junior year, he worked with the Wisconsin DNR as a fisheries technician out of Escanaba Lake near Boulder Junction. And now as a senior, he’s serving his second year as president of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) chapter on campus.
“The experiences here and the opportunities you can have if you go out there and get them are just endless,” said Lant. Lacrosse has not played a big part in the last two years of his career, but Lant has still stayed at Northland, not only to pursue its program for fisheries but also to complete his minor in studio art.
“As a junior in high school I fell really deeply in love with ceramics,” he said. Lant has even incorporated the two degrees, donating ceramic mugs to be sold at one of AFS’s fundraisers.
Now wrapping up his senior year, Lant is developing his capstone using the experience and data gathered from his internship with the Wisconsin DNR to create an “anglershed project.” “The anglershed project is using angler’s home ranges and their target species effort to see if there is a relationship between angler home ranges and catch rates,” said Lant. “The hope is that this will be used to better manage fisheries across the state of Wisconsin using Escanaba Lake as an example.”
Lant credits those internships for helping him get a leg up in the competitive field of fisheries “I learned so many things about fisheries management, and fisheries research,” he said.
For example, he’s learned firsthand about the difference of fisheries on the open waters of Lake Superior and inland lakes of Wisconsin. The advice and knowledge he gained there has even helped him answer questions about graduate school and becoming a fisheries biologist, a path he hopes to take upon graduation.