Celebrating 100 Years of Building Careers – and Community – at Trout Lake Station

by Adam Hinterthuer

Edward A. Birge (left) and Chancey Juday at Trout Lake Station, 1930

When Chancey Juday and E.A Birge first began conducting research on northern Wisconsin lakes in 1925, they couldn’t have known that their decision to base their efforts at Trout Lake would create the legacy that it did. But, earlier this summer, more than 120 Trout Lake Station (TLS) alumni gathered in the Boulder Junction Community Center to celebrate a century of limnology in the Northwoods.

Several generations of “Trout Lakers” – as folks who have spent a summer on station are affectionately called – came from as far away as Ireland and Canada. There were retirees on hand to reflect on long, distinguished careers and young, early career undergraduates up north for their first summer experience.

Despite these differences, the group shared a bond. No matter when they had been “on Station,” they all had similar memories of a summer field season – baking in the hot sun in aluminum boats, swatting at mosquitoes, braving rain and winds to collect data, squinting into microscopes to identify plankton, and spending downtime with chilly lake swims and evening campfires on the shores of Trout Lake.

For one hundred years, TLS has imprinted itself on the students and scientists who spend time at its modest “campus” on the south shore of its namesake lake. We asked some of these alumni to share their stories and experiences. (Read more CFL history online.)

Linden Taylor & Carol Warden dredge for spiny water flea tails.

Linden Taylor (Summers on Station 2017-2018, 2022)

“Trout Lake Station is a special place that I always look forward to visiting again in any season. The people I worked alongside have inspired me to take a path of understanding plant ecology and encouraging appreciation for, and commitment to, protecting natural ecosystems. These experiences helped prepare me for my graduate research and work at UW-Madison teaching and mentoring students.”

Linden is a PhD candidate at the UW-Madison in the Dept. of Botany, where she studies plant ecology, an interest she developed surveying aquatic plant communities with Susan Knight and Carol Warden during the summers of 2017 and 2018. Linden returned to TLS in 2022 as a crew lead working with Noah Lottig on the North Temperate Lakes Long Term Eclogical Research (NTL LTER) Regional Lakes Survey.

Shelley Arnott (Summers on station 1993-1998)

Shelly Arnott (front right) with her cohort of peers upstairs in the Juday house (late 1990’s).

“I loved living in the little cabins, although coming back to the cabin from the parking lot when it was dark was a challenge! I have great memories of early morning fishing in a canoe on Trout Lake. I never caught anything (except once) but it was wonderful to be out in the early morning with the mist coming off the water. Something I still think about quite often.”

Shelley was a PhD student with Tom Frost and John Magnuson from 1993-1998. She was involved on many projects, including lake surveys to assess the relationship between fish community structure, zooplankton and phytoplankton abundance and nutrient limitation and in-the-field experiments at Little Rock Lake. She keeps in touch with a number of her fellow Trout Lakers via weekly Zoom calls and an annual in-person meet up.

John Lyons (Summers on station 1980-1984)

As a Ph.D student working at TLS in 1983, John Lyons received the “broken prop” award along with visiting scientist Liao Gouzhang.

“Trout Lake was an amazing experience and completely determined the course of my professional career, which was spent as a fisheries research scientist and supervisor for the WI DNR. The station was much smaller then, and before the advent of the internet and cell phones, much more isolated from Madison and the rest of the world. This insularity I think fostered a particularly strong sense of community among the folks at the station. For better or worse, everybody knew everybody else pretty well by the end of the summer and did lots of activities together.”

John Lyons worked at TLS from 1980-1984, studying increasing acidity in lakes and its impacts on yellow perch and the effects of walleye predation on fish community structure in Sparkling Lake. He was also involved in the very first fish surveys for the LTER project that kicked off in the early 80s.