A common question I get is, “What does it take to get a job with the Game and Fish Department?”
If we’re talking about just the wildlife or fisheries biologist side, the answer involves at minimum a four-year degree in some type of biology or wildlife management curriculum. En route to that degree, seasonal work for Game and Fish is a big plus.
My colleague Ron Wilson, editor of North Dakota Outdoors magazine, covered that very topic in the July 2019 issue, and I thought I’d share some of that insight with excerpts from that article.
Department wildlife and fisheries managers place a high value on part-time staff because of the number of tasks, many of which go unseen by the public, that get accomplished by young, hard-working hands.
“Without the help from seasonal staff, we as a department just wouldn’t get by,” said Terry Steinwand, current department director and seasonal worker in 1975-76.
While the department hires both full-time, year-round and summer seasonal staff, the majority work during the summer months.
“Oftentimes what department seasonal employees are doing is not glamorous work, but extremely important in fulfilling our mission at the Game and Fish Department,” said Scott Peterson, department deputy director.
Peterson’s first summer as a department seasonal was in 1979.
“Spraying weeds, planting trees, planting grass, fixing what’s broken … all of those duties that need to get done, but we just don’t have the time and personnel to do it ourselves,” he said.
Greg Power, department fisheries chief, was a summer seasonal in 1979 and remembers that he, well, knew very little about what needed to be done or how to do it when he started.
“I thought at the time, ‘What did I get myself into … this is not what the college textbooks taught me,’” Power said. “This is not the job for you if you think you are going to be sitting behind a desk; instead with fisheries crews you will get your hands wet, feet wet and grease up to your elbows in the shop. The work is critical to our mission, and we simply wouldn’t get it done without the help.”
Much of the fish population sampling data earned by hours of netting fish in many of North Dakota’s waters is the byproduct of seasonal sweat and effort.
“They set the nets, pull the nets, take the fish out of the nets and sometimes record the data,” Power said. “Depending on where they are with their experience, those who return for another summer or two will lead a crew. These people are critical to our data collection.”
For many college students who like to hunt and/or fish, a summer working for Game and Fish might seem like the ideal job, but oddly enough, in the past few years a few available positions have been hard to fill. Anyone interested in knowing when these jobs are advertised can sign up for notifications on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.