Alana Schofield, left, of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Michigan, and Taylor Nichols of the Wahnapitae First Nation in Ontario, Canada, are two of the first three scholarship recipients.

Students awarded scholarships in memory of aquaculture manager

$5,000 grants honour legacy of Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe's Kurt Grinnell


mAn aquaculture scholarship foundation established in the memory of a Native American leader has awarded its first scholarships to three students - two representing US Tribes and one representing one of Canada’s First Nations.

Each scholar will receive US $5,000 to pursue degrees in aquaculture, marine biology, and fisheries and wildlife science.

The Kurt Grinnell Aquaculture Scholarship Foundation (KGASF) honours the legacy of the late Kurt Grinnell, a leader from the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe in Washington State, who saw aquaculture as a solution to Tribal food security.

The Foundation provides financial assistance to Tribal and First Nations students who wish to pursue careers in aquaculture and natural resources, said Jaiden Grinnell Bosick, one of Grinnell’s two daughters.

'A bright and shining future'

Bosick, who fishes commercially in Alaska with her husband, serves on the KGASF Board, where she heads up the Scholarship Selection Committee.

“As a family and as a Board, we are immensely proud of these three scholarship winners,” said Bosick. “We all believe these students have a bright and shining future ahead, and we look forward to their contributions to the field of aquaculture.

“My dad would have been honoured and proud to know them.”

A life linked to water and Tribal welfare

Kurt Grinnell, who was 57, died when his car left the road in Washington State in April last year. At the time he was aquaculture manager for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, which is involved in a fish farming joint venture with salmon farmer Cooke Aquaculture Pacific in Washington State.

During his working life Grinnell had been a gill-net fisher, starting in 1981, and in the early 1990s he served as an Indian child welfare case worker, chemical dependency counsellor and social worker. He had also served the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe in the areas of education, housing and culture.

In 1995, he became a commercial geoduck diver.

Levana Mastrangelo, vice-chair of the KGASF board and Selection Committee member, said: “We believe that the scholarships made possible by the KGASF not only help these students financially, but for every scholarship winner, there is a strong connection to their Tribal or First Nation heritage.

Mastrangelo, is the senior reconciliation advisor at salmon farmer Cermaq Canada and belongs to the Ucluelet First Nation government.

“In Canada, aquaculture plays a vital role in First Nation communities and is a path to self-determination and Reconciliation,” said Mastrangelo, adding that “aquaculture provides many jobs and economic opportunities, as well as creating healthy seafood products”.

Lamprey populations

The inaugural scholarship winners are Michael Buck of the Yakama Nation in Washington State (whose Yakama Nation name is Ka-Kin-As); Alana Schofield of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Michigan; and Taylor Nichols of the Wahnapitae First Nation (WFN) in Ontario, Canada.

Buck, enrolled at the University of Washington’s School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, has “a keen interest in historic fisheries in the Columbia River Basin including lamprey populations which were historically important to several Tribes in the Colombia River Basin”. He plans to use his scholarship to pursue his master’s degree.

Schofield is enrolled at Lake Superior State University in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, where she will pursue a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology. Schofield has experience in Tribal fisheries and is interested in learning about aquaculture and aquaponics, with the goal of “returning to her Tribal Community and using her knowledge to advance tribal sovereignty and improve and protect the natural environment”.

Taylor Nichols has experience in aquaculture via a pickerel micro-hatchery with the Wahnapitae First Nation and is currently pursuing a Master of Science Degree in Biology from Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario. She is a graduate of Canada’s Dalhousie University.

The scholarship award announcement coincides with the celebration in the United States of National Native American Heritage Month.