If this is not in Doug’s job description, it should be—"have dominion over the fish of the sea” (Genesis 1:28). The Biblical word dominion means stewardship and Doug takes this responsibility very seriously. Doug is in his twentieth year as director of the National Fish Hatchery in Genoa, WI sitting on the shores of the mighty Mississippi River. Like many in his field, one of Doug’s passions is fishing. This passion helped pave the road to his 37 year career in publicly funded fish management. During the busiest time of the season, you will find Doug on one of the boats moving nets of fish from ponds to river and he loves every minute of it. But as director, Doug’s responsibilities are focused more on managing his competent staff more than handling the fish.
The Genoa Hatchery is recognized nationally for their groundbreaking work with native mussel species. They raise and release 30,000 lake sturgeon every year. They also provide millions of eggs, fry and fingerlings of many different species to state fishery stations, federal hatcheries and National Wildlife Refuges to support ongoing fish management and restoration programs. Needless to say, Doug has his hands full.
I have been on site for many of their Kid’s Fishing Days in the summer and winter where hundreds of kids cast their lures into the ponds of hungry rainbow trout. My own kids loved the experience and I loved to eat the trout they brought home. But one special experience was being part of the $12 million Great River Road Interpretive Center sponsored by the hatchery. Doug explained that “the building tells many different stories of the Region and its natural surroundings, but also includes the unique history and story of conservation of the Upper Mississippi Region. We can tell them about the area as well as our conservation efforts. [The history of the Sauk people, who lived along the river] are important pieces to our heritage, so we’re happy to tell those stories as well.” Doug asked me to say the prayer for both the groundbreaking and dedication ceremonies. U.S. Congressman Ron Kind was on hand for the dedication. Because of the notoriety of the hatchery, Doug has been quoted in the newspaper and stood in front of the news camera on many occasions.
Almost since that first day I met his family, Doug has served our church through his music and worship talents, leading worship teams and playing the guitar and flute. His wife Debbie has been the church’s Administrative Assistant for several years. Our young children have all grown and are leaving the nest but my appreciation for Doug and his family have remained the same.