Stanislaus State Interim Dean of the College of Science Mark Grobner frequently has to call the university's public safety department to report the various poachers that illegally fish the ponds of the Turlock college campus. This week, however, Grobner was made aware of a different kind of presence around the Naraghi Hall of Science’s Willow Lake.
In May, zoology professor Patrick Kelly noticed a young man near the lake reaching through its reeds. Immediately, he thought he would once again have to chase off a poacher. After watching the young man closely, Kelly realized that he was working his way around the bushes, collecting potentially dangerous lures and monofilament lines left behind by local anglers.
Sixteen-year-old Mark Jimenez told Kelly that he lives nearby, and often collects lures and other items along the shore, concerned about the threat they could pose to wildlife on campus.
Kelly relayed the story to Grobner, who was impressed with Jimenez’s concern for the animals.
“After all the kids I’ve had to run out of here for fishing, it was outstanding that this young man was doing the right thing for the right reason,” said Grobner.
Grobner made the decision to honor Jimenez with a plaque for his good deed, inviting the Pitman High School student to his office and commending him on being a friend to the university’s natural habitat.
“It was time we rewarded someone for doing the right thing,” said Grobner.
Fishing, poaching and other unwanted activities around Willow Lake not only cause problems for the various species of wildlife around it, but for Stanislaus State’s biological sciences and conservation education as well.
“Whenever I go fishing I find stuff, so I pick it up and maybe I use it another day,” said Jimenez. “A couple of days ago I saw a big fish out of the water at Willow Lake and he was dead, and that wasn’t good.”
Grobner described Willow Lake as a “living laboratory,” as the lake is used for teaching.
“We chase a lot of kids out of there and the faculty in biology is very aware of that,” Grobner said. “There are fish out there and they’re easy to catch but I don’t think these kids understand that there’s a bigger picture here. This is a teaching area, so when they fish or poach they’re affecting our ability to teach.”
Along with his plaque, Jimenez also received a gift card to Bass Pro Shop.
“Too often we’re chasing kids away, and we thought it was the right thing to do,” said Grobner.