Meet Kerrie Berger ’11

This young alum is using what she learned at Montana Tech to educate future generations.

Kerry at hatcheryKerrie knew she wanted to work with wildlife at an early age. While researching careers in wildlife biology, she discovered that the pay isn’t always that great. "I didn’t want to graduate with a crippling amount of debt," said Kerrie, who admits having looked at several Universities. "But I could not turn down the scholarships and opportunities I was offered at Montana Tech!"

She attributes a lot of her success to the Biological Sciences department at Montana Tech. "The professors do an excellent job of preparing students for the real world," stated Kerrie. All biology majors are required to write and defend a senior theses project. The project begins their freshman year and continues through their time in the program. "We had to design a project, collect and analyze data, and defend our research to our peers, mentors, and the public. It doesn’t get any more real than that," exclaimed Kerrie. Most other biology programs Kerrie looked at do not provide or require this type of in depth research experience. Kerrie also feels that smaller class sizes at Montana Tech helped tailor her and her fellow classmates learning environment.

Kerrie under floorAfter graduation Kerrie worked for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for 4 years before accepting a permanent fish culturist position with the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks at Washoe Park Trout Hatchery in Anaconda MT. As a fish culturist she is responsible for maintaining the hatchery facilities, educating the public, researching fish health, improving rearing methods, and stocking fish into Montana rivers, lakes and streams.

Each year the hatchery raises and then stocks, 75,000 young (2 inch) Westslope cutthroat trout (WCT) by truck, helicopter, horseback, and backpacking to some of the most beautiful streams and lakes in Montana. In addition, 150,000 yearlings (6 inches long) and 12,000 catchable WCT (approximately 10 plus inches) are also released. The hatchery also releases retired brood fish into children’s fishing ponds. Some of these fish are as big as 5 lbs. and 16" in length. Not a bad catch for a kid with a small fishing pole.

weighing fish

Kerrie is most proud of the educational impact she has made over the course of her career as a fish culturist. "Fish hatcheries are a magnet for visitors of all ages," boasted Kerrie. She continued, "the hatchery is a perfect setting for educating people about the importance of habitat, recreational management strategies, genetics, population dynamics and of course fish biology."

Kerrie made a lasting impression on her professors and received the Montana Technological University Alumni Recognition Award from the Biological Sciences department in 2019. The award recognizes young professionals who are excelling in their chosen degree field.

Kerrie advises future and current students to gain as much experience and as many connections as you can. "The college experience is what YOU make it! Connections made in college can last a lifetime. It will surprise you when and where they will pop up during your career!" 

We are on the lookout for stories Like Kerrie's to share with our Oredigger community, if you know of a person or story to be featured please email spanisko@mtech.edu.