Introducing our (Virtual) Summer Science Communication Intern!

It turns out that not even a global pandemic can stop summer from coming. And that means we get to welcome an undergraduate student to our ranks as our summer science communication intern. While Cassie won’t be staying on station at Trout Lake this summer, she’s got plans to safely share all sorts of our science to online audiences. Without further ado, we introduce Cassie Gauthier!


Cassie (on the right) stands with her siblings at the start of the Escanaba canoe trip.

by Cassie Gauthier – “Off we go,” my dad says as we begin to push our canoes away from shore and paddle across the lake. When we get to the middle, my brother and I look at each other and grin as we shout out to my dad and younger sister in a canoe next to us, “race you to shore!” We all start to paddle hard and are splashing water all over each other as we race to the other end of the lake. I laugh because my brother starts to jokingly grunt and make funny noises in the back of the canoe as our arms start to get tired.

We tire out before we reach the shore and start to paddle slowly along the shoreline looking in the water for fish or cool looking plants. I lean over the canoe to get a better look in the water and spook a musky right in front of me. I jump as it comes up to make a big splash right in my face. My whole family begins laughing and making jokes about it as we beach our canoes on shore and prepare to carry our canoes through the portage trail to the lake we would spend the night camping along the shore.

Hello, my name is Cassie Gauthier, and I am the Science Communications Intern for the Trout Lake Station this summer! This story is from the beginning of one of many camping trips my family and I have taken on lakes in northern Wisconsin. On this trip in particular we started canoeing on Escanaba Lake and portaged to Pallet Lake – a family favorite for camping because of the clear water, sandy beaches, and few people.

Cassie Gauthier

I am an undergraduate at UW-Madison and will begin my junior year studying psychology and neurobiology this fall. I lived in northern Wisconsin all of my life in a small town named Saint Germain, which is close to Trout Lake Station, before moving to Madison. My family loves to fish, swim, camp, and hike around many of the lakes in the area. As my brother, sister, and I would partake in these activities when we were younger, my dad would teach us about the lake ecosystems and the plants and fish within them.

While swimming, if my foot caught on a plant, I would grab it and bring it to the surface of the water to show my dad so that he could tell me its name. He would usually tell me the scientific name of the plant and make me stumble over the pronunciation multiple times to say it correctly, before introducing me to the common name of the plant. If we were canoeing, he loved pointing out every freshwater sponge we paddled past, naming the insects on the top of the water, and always pointed out fish as they swam by. Even on drives to-and-from lakes and various scenic areas my dad had a knack for seeing every bird perched up in trees along the road and pointing them out to the rest of the family as he tried to figure out what species it was.

Our family has definitely acquired my dad’s traits of being very observant of the outdoors and curious about the species of plants and animals we find. Now, whenever we drive past a bird the whole family is pointing at it in a tree and debating together what species it is. In the same way, when we are canoeing or fishing on a lake, we all will be pointing out cool plants we see in the water and sharing unique stories or facts relating to the species we see.

Memories of enjoying these beautiful lakes has grown my passion for conservation and helping these ecosystems stay healthy. The research that is currently being conducted on Trout Lake Station will help provide a better understanding of the best ways to keep the lakes around for many generations to enjoy. Sharing this information with a broad audience is important for keeping the lakes healthy and I am so excited to be an integral role in doing so this summer.

When people fall in love with anything, they naturally want to protect it and care for it. I fell in love with the lakes in northern Wisconsin because of the experiences I have had with my family and want to protect them and care for them. I hope that you too can grow your appreciation and love for the lakes in northern Wisconsin as I share information about them and the scientists studying them throughout the summer.

Stay tuned for information on how life at the Trout Lake Station has been modified this summer due to COVID-19 and much, much more!