Lessons in Leadership: Integrating Courage, Vision, and Innovation for the Future of Sustainable Fisheries
Five Steps to Finding Your Place in Fisheries
Rebecca M. Krogman
“Be safe, have fun, and learn something new every day.” The words of one of my first mentors, Mel. Mel taught me how to back a boat trailer and flush a motor, but he also taught me that being teachable was more important than what I already knew. He taught me how to navigate stump fields, but also that it’s okay to make mistakes (i.e., to high-center the boat on a stump by accident). Thanks to Mel and the others at the research station, I probably did learn something new every day I worked that summer. I appreciated their extensive knowledge, patience and willingness to train newbies, sense of humor, and professional conduct of their work.
Mentors are essential to professional growth. Without a few key people looking out for me, I would have foundered, lacking clear direction of who I wanted to be and where I wanted to go. Thanks to my undergraduate advisor, Mike, I became involved in the American Fisheries Society (AFS) and dedicated myself fully to the fisheries profession. I can still remember him telling me that, if I was serious about fisheries, I needed to focus my efforts, work hard, and develop stronger leadership skills. I have since learned how deeply intertwined leadership skills are with professional involvement, personal growth, and active pursuit of lifelong learning and teaching. Here, I hope to share these lessons in five steps. Mike challenged me at every turn to become better than I was, which leads me to my first point.
During my sophomore year of undergrad, Mike told me to get involved with my field’s professional society. But he also told me that I wasn’t allowed to attend a meeting unless I presented something. Quite the catch-22 for someone who used to hyperventilate at the thought of being called on in class! I was shy, paralyzed by public speaking, terrified of socializing, and extremely insecure in my knowledge of fisheries science. How could I present anything of value to anyone? Nonetheless, I had to present something.