Top 10 Under 40
Jill Voorhees: Evidence-based
By Mari-Len De Guzman
In the world of aquaculture where knowledge connotes decades of experience in the industry, this young professional is already making a mark through her research and their practical hatchery applications with less than a decade under her belt.
Jill Voorhees, a biologist at the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks in South Dakota, USA, has only been a hatchery professional for nine years. But in that relatively short period, she has already authored and co-authored 24 published papers, eight of them were peer-reviewed. She has presented numerous talks and posters at various industry events. And that’s just on the academic side.
“Jill has also been recognized by her employer, receiving the outstanding performance award in the Aquatics Section of the Department of Game, Fish and Parks after only five years of permanent employment. She has also received the David Willis Outstanding Young Professional Award from the Dakota Chapter of the American Fisheries Society,” writes Michael Barnes, Voorhees’ supervisor and mentor.
From student intern and part-time hatchery worker, Voorhees rose through the ranks and became the research biologist at the McNenny Hatchery, investigating new protocols to improve rearing efficiencies and post stocking survival rates for salmonid. She is also investigating one of the most neglected research areas in aquaculture: occupational health and safety.
“Jill’s contributions to aquaculture occupational safety and health changed operations at both Cleghorn and McNenny Hatcheries, and have impacted aquaculture operations around the globe,” Barnes says.
The variety of the work is what first attracted Voorhees to work at a hatchery, which is not just about working with fish and “smelling bad” all the time.
“I learned the other aspects of the job, the variety of having different seasons of work for stocking, spawning, rearing, and other things. I liked having the variety and being both outside, inside, and having a job that challenges me, and allows me to learn,” Voorhees says.
Multitasking is where Voorhees thrives. Throughout her career, she has been engaged in multiple, meaningful activities – whether it’s completing her graduate degree while working full-time at the hatchery and conducting several research studies or being a wife and mother raising a young family. All these tasks she accomplishes with flying colours.
But research is where her professional heart truly is. “Research is the thing that will continue to challenge my skills and ideas on how we have always done things,” Voorhees says.