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

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874608.ch18

“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.