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Where Are They Now?

Mike Swan.

Mike Swan

Which Sea Grant researcher did you work with and what did you work on?

I was the first graduate of the American Indian in Marine Science (AIMS) Sea Grant scholarship program through the University of Minnesota. I worked as an undergraduate for Hollie Collins, professor (now retired) with the Department of Biology at the University of Minnesota Duluth. I assisted with his research on bait leeches.

What do you do now?

I work with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) as a pollution control specialist. I conduct inspections, enforce codes, and issue permits related to wastewater discharge for large towns, cities, and industries in northern Minnesota. Prior to joining the MPCA, I traveled the U.S. and Canada as a biologist and natural resource consultant to Native American tribes.

How did your studies prepare you for your current job?

They increased my understanding of the environment and how to approach research and technical writing. My degree work also helped me formulate a philosophy that mixes higher education and my traditional values as a Native American to better understand the environment and how everything is connected. I teach that philosophy and concept when lecturing to native students in schools and colleges.

Why do you think Sea Grant is a worthwhile organization?

This program gives students of all ages, races, religions, and creeds the opportunity to conduct research on a college level. This research experience will help students apply their knowledge and education in the real world.

When you were in college, did you ever think you would be doing your current work?

No, not really, especially me (a Native American) working for the state of Minnesota.

What’s your dream job?

Well, I can’t think of anything better than the projects or the people whom I have met or worked with during my 16-year career as a researcher, biologist, and environmental consultant. I traveled the country, working in places and with people that many folks can only imagine. My work took me everywhere from Washington, D.C., to across the United States, to remote villages and islands in Canada. My projects were diverse and interesting: making aerial surveys of moose and waterfowl; conducting research on wild rice; conducting censuses of fish; studying historic fisheries harvests and species data on three Great Lakes; and working with tribes in the western U.S., Canada and Alaska on managing their natural resources. I really enjoyed what I did and I believe I made a difference in the lives of many native people.

By Sea Grant Staff
April 2001

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