When Katherine Nordholm was in high school, she toured a Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program fish hatchery in the Coos Bay area.
She found herself so interested in the program, that by summer she had joined it as a volunteer.
Now, more than a decade later and with two college degrees behind her, Nordholm is a STEP biologist who works out of the Springfield office.
“It really just kind of sprung out of the experience and really enjoying the fisheries work that I did there, and wanting to make it a career,” Nordholm said. “I always thought this would be the best job ever, and now I have it.”
Nordholm, who was raised in Coos Bay, has a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in fisheries science, both from Oregon State University.
In addition to volunteering for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for many years, Nordholm also worked for the department for about five years between degrees, in an entry-level position, where she did stream and coho spawning surveys and worked on the salmonid life-cycle monitoring project.
After her hiatus to get her graduate degree, Nordholm began working for the ODFW again in 2014. She has been a STEP biologist since last September.
When she’s not working, Nordholm is still outdoors, where she enjoys hiking, camping, fishing and kayaking.
As part of her job, Nordholm coordinates volunteer projects and works with volunteers – from civic groups to Boy Scouts troops to retirees – on efforts that include habitat restoration and family fishing days to teach kids how to fish.
“I think it’s great for volunteers of all ages to feel that they have an ownership in the resource,” Nordholm said. “… It’s just a great way to get them connected with each other, with the resource and with what we do as an agency out there on the ground.”