From the Trout Lake Station Director 2024

This year, Trout Lake Station (TLS) celebrates its 100-year anniversary, or what we like to call its LimnoCentennial! For a century now, the identity of TLS has been forged by hundreds of amazing people, the relationships they build with this beautiful place and each other, and the journeys their time at Trout Lake set them on through life. From the 100 year connection of the Juday family, to the individual graduate students who are now inspiring leaders in the field of limnology, we have captured only a few of these stories in this newsletter. We hope to learn and share more throughout this milestone year!

My own journey in lake research started at TLS. I was an undergraduate at Lawrence University when Bart DeStasio first introduced me and my aquatic science class to some of the lakes TLS studies in the Northwoods area. During this trip, I was introduced to Mary Lake, a 3 acre, 67 ft deep lake. With dark, deep waters and a ruler straight deer browse line starkly evident on the trees encircling the shore, this unusual lake with traits so different from many of the surrounding lakes captured my curiosity.

Intrigued, I applied for a summer internship in 1996 under the mentorship of Bart and then TLS director, Tom Frost. My job was to run an instrument that measured the size and abundance of algal particles. I sat in a darkened room for hours staring at the mercury-filled machine and clicked a purge valve every time that the very narrow opening clogged (which averaged 4-5 times per /minute!). Needless to say, it wasn’t the ‘work’ from that first summer that drove my motivation to return in 1997 and to build a career in the field; it was the connections.

My hours in a darkened lab over the two summers were balanced with joining graduate students to head out on the water to help on a variety of projects. It was an invaluable experience thanks to the eagerness folks had to share their knowledge and the time I had to immerse myself and soak it all up.

The respect I developed for field work and field stations stayed with me. I have now taught or conducted fieldwork at more than 20 different field stations. I learned that each station has its own identity steeped in history, the surrounding environments, and the people.
Trout Lake Station is special. The intimate, water-centered research and training led by young people who put the time and energy to commit and immerse themselves each summer remains the backbone of all we do. Groundbreaking research, young leaders, and lasting connections are core to the identity of Trout Lake Station.

As we look toward the next 100 years, I hope that we can maintain and expand these types of experiences for generations to come.

Gretchen Gerrish, Director, Trout Lake Station
University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Limnology