Reconnecting with the 'Why?'

By Jake Lemon

In the past year I’ve been very lucky to take on the role of TU’s eastern shale gas monitoring coordinator, in which I train and support a cadre of angler scientists to conduct water quality monitoring.

I’m luckier still because this job takes me to some of the best places in Central Appalachia. Places such as Slate Run, Pa., a gorgeous wild trout stream flowing into Pine Creek, which is an outdoor recreation mecca in north-central Pennsylvania. Pocahontas County, W. Va.,  a stronghold of great trout waters like the Elk River. And the George Washington National Forest, Va., home to many scenic native trout streams and great hiking opportunities.

I’ve covered quite a few mountain road miles and seen some amazing places.

I often get asked the question: “You TU employees get to fish all the time, right?”

Well, it is very easy to fall into the daily grind – head down, just going from one task to another – and we forget to take time for the things we love. I’d zoom out to these amazing places then go to meetings, work in my hotel room, run my trainings and zoom home to get back at a decent hour. I’d see these great trout streams but always felt there was something more pressing that needed to be done.

I finally came to the realization that the time to fish, hike and explore wasn’t going to just appear. I needed to make it happen. So this spring I promised myself to spend time experiencing the places I travel to, even if only for an hour or two.

Following through with this promise has led me to unknown wild trout streams that likely haven’t seen many flies and epic spring creeks with hungry brown trout. I’ve also developed a healthy disdain for rhododendrons but actually experiencing these places has reconnected me with why I do what I do.

If I travel for work, chances are it’s an area experiencing energy development, or that likely will in the future. The volunteers I work with are the eyes and ears on the ground, making sure any impacts on their home waters as a result of energy development are reported quickly and effectively. We also collect baseline data in high-quality streams so existing watershed health is known and can serve as a reference in case of future development.

This work is an extremely important element of TU’s strategy to protect these wonderful places that I get to visit so often.

Jake Lemon is the eastern shale gas monitoring coordinator for TU. Jake works out of Bellefonte, Pa.


Add Content