Wild Fish For All Scholarship

Wild Fish For All Scholarship

Academic Scholarship for BIPOC in Fisheries Conservation

The Native Fish Society believes that supporting diverse voices builds a groundswell for the revival of abundant wild fish in the Pacific Northwest. To elevate these diverse voices and breakdown barriers to racial and gender diversity in Fisheries Conservation, we created the Wild Fish For All scholarship. We’re excited to kick off this program in 2021!


One student will be selected each year as our Wild Fish For All Scholar. We will provide the winner with a $1,000 scholarship to put toward college tuition, fees, housing, and books. The top five applicants will also receive a one-year membership to the Native Fish Society.

  • Identify as BIPOC, BIPOC women strongly encouraged to apply
  • Passionate about reviving abundant wild fish, free-flowing rivers, and thriving local communities in the Pacific Northwest
  • Enrollment in a fisheries conservation program or demonstrable academic focus on fisheries science, conservation, or policy.
    • If you're not sure you qualify please contact us at info@nativefishsociety.org

How to Apply:
  • Send a 500-word essay on the following question: Why do wild, native fish matter to you, your homewaters, and your region?
  • Send one letter of recommendation from a staff member in your academic department.
  • Email these items to info@nativefishsociety.org

TBD 2022

2021 Wild Fish For All Scholarship Recipient

Michelle Pepping, MS UC Davis
Animal Biology Ph.D. Student

Michelle's Scholarship Essay:

My homewaters are both the Guadalupe River in Santa Clara County, California, and the Rio Yaqui in Sonora, a northwestern state in Mexico. My connection to life-giving waters and the fish they support comes from my mother, born in the pueblo Batuc in Sonora. She grew up in a village with no electricity, depending on the river for her and her community’s life and wellness. I have been to Batuc many times with my mother, but it is a shadow of the pueblo it once was. As a girl, her family moved to California hoping for an opportunity at a better life. A dam was built after she left and all of the people were forced to leave. With climate change and drought, all I ever saw was ruins of an old stone church and small wooden houses dry and crusted over with what used to be a lake bottom. She tells me about sitting on the banks with my grandmother washing clothes with the rocks and a washboard. With good water and healthy fish so far away, family in Mexico now have to make a trip to the ocean to have good fish for tacos. They all miss the river. In California, my mother took me to the creek by our home and taught me what and how to eat what the water provides. When I started competing in science fairs, I went straight to that creek and conducted water quality surveys to track down points of pollution.

When I made my way into conservation science and ecology during my undergraduate career at the University of California, Santa Barbara, it was no surprise that I fell into salmon research. Working to improve wild salmon populations fits into the values and experiences of my family. Salmon are also choked and displaced when dams are in place. Respecting salmon means respecting indigenous peoples and tribal/village life. To have healthy wild salmon, you need healthy wild rivers. Now, I am a PhD candidate at the University of California, Davis working under the mentorship of Dr. Mike Miller as I use genetics as a tool to better understand and manage steelhead and salmon. I am currently looking at the distribution of run-time in the North Umpqua Basin in Oregon to better understand the evolutionary advantage of summer-run steelhead. It is extremely rewarding to work in fish conservation. I am excited to look back at my career and point to the physical rivers with healthy fish where my efforts mattered, hopefully while eating tacos de pescado.

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