The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency recognized its nominees for fisheries biologist and fisheries technician of the year in TWRA’s Region IV in East Tennessee.
Buffalo Springs Hatchery Manager Duane Oyer has been nominated by TWRA as its Region IV candidate for the statewide Fisheries Biologist of the Year award. Mr. Oyer began his professional career with TWRA in 1975 as a CETA program employee at Buffalo Springs Hatchery in Grainger Co. where he worked as a fish culturist. In 1980, he became a Wildlife Manager 1 working part time in fisheries and part time in wildlife management. In the fisheries part of this position he worked under the reservoir biologist where he served as crew leader in reservoir data collection. In 1986, Mr. Oyer was promoted to his current position as manager of Buffalo Springs Hatchery. As the hatchery manager, he has overseen many hatchery improvements and upgrades over the years including a new water supply line, new effluent settling raceways, and the installation of a liquid oxygen system, all of which have improved the overall hatchery production.
Recently, Mr. Oyer took on the new responsibility of re-establishing the trout stocking program for the West Prong Little Pigeon River in Sevier Co. In addition, he has provided much needed assistance to the City of Gatlinburg with their trout program that was significantly altered when the trout facility was damaged during the wildfire in 2016. He has also held additional trout at his facility from Flintville Hatchery that Gatlinburg has used during the 2017 stocking season. This has enabled Gatlinburg to continue their trout program at near normal operation. Region IV Fisheries Program Coordinator Bart Carter said, “Over the past 41 years, Duane has been a dedicated employee in his service to TWRA and the citizens of Tennessee. His management of the hatchery has been exemplary even during major disruptions, and he has been able to continue propagation and delivery of fish to the public without interruption.”
Richard Markland, a Creel Clerk with TWRA in Region IV, has been nominated for the statewide Fisheries Technician of the Year Award. Mr. Markland began his career with TWRA as a creel clerk, following the footsteps of his grandfather, and then transferred to a position at the Erwin Fish Hatchery. After deciding that being a creel clerk was exactly what he wanted to do, he transferred back to his current position as the creel clerk for the upper East Tennessee area.
Some of his most recent work includes serving as an integral part of a smallmouth bass research project on South Holston Lake. In January, the project was developed to test the effects of deep-water smallmouth bass angling. Mr. Markland took the lead on organizing volunteer anglers, including recruiting anglers from a boat ramp parking lot who participated in catching smallmouth bass to be tagged for a mortality study. Not only did he organize the anglers, he also volunteered his personal time and boat to help with the angling himself. He also assisted with collecting data for the project by using specialized equipment to follow the tagged fish from where they were released to determine if there was any mortality caused from angling. In addition, he also secured a spot at a marina to keep the sampling boat at no charge during the three-month project, saving TWRA time and money from hauling the boat between the work base and the reservoir. This project produced a great amount of positive publicity for TWRA and the Region IV Reservoir crew and Mr. Markland has helped spread the results by word of mouth, as well as organizing a meeting to present the official results of the project.
During his personal time, Mr. Markland has become a certified diver and was recently accepted to be a part of the TWRA dive team. While no other employee at the technician level is on the team, he willingly accepted his role and has become an integral part of the team, often using his personal time and resources to make himself a better diver. Region IV Reservoirs Fisheries Biologist John Hammonds said, “Richard is a great employee who is willing to do whatever is asked of him, and typically goes above and beyond his normal duties without being asked. Whether it is aiding the data collection crews with electrofishing and gill netting, hauling trout to the reservoirs to be stocked, or asking additional angler attitude questions on his newly expanded bodies of water, Richard enthusiastically takes on all duties.”