By Daniel Jones

My name is Daniel Jones, however, many people know me as D.J.  My childhood was surrounded by the outdoors, whether it was fishing with my mom, hunting with my dad, catching lizards with my brother, or chasing my sisters with bugs. Literally anything I could find to do outside, I would do it. As I got older, I was able to instill my passion in my nieces and nephews, and I will do the same with my children when that time comes.

Becoming a biologist

In high school, I was highly involved in FFA (Future Farmers of America) and my advisor, Clair Hammonds, steered me toward choosing Clemson University. My experiences in college and the SCDNR internship program have steered me more toward becoming a fisheries biologist.

I am currently a senior Wildlife and Fisheries Biology major at Clemson University. I have had some outstanding opportunities while attending this school, and I know that attending Clemson was the best decision of my life. I have been a part of multiple Creative Inquiry projects, but the one that fueled my passion for fisheries is the Field Stream Ecology project led by Dr. Yoichiro Kanno. In this project, I have learned fisheries techniques that I will retain for a lifetime, including backpack electroshocking, seining, fish identification, passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag insertion and data manipulation. This project allowed me to travel to Tampa, Florida to present research at the 147th Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society.

D.J. Jones and Liam Hobbie presenting research at the 147th Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society.

I have also been a part of the officer team that brought the Fisheries Society back to Clemson University in the fall of 2016 under Dr. Brandon Peoples. I am currently the president of the Clemson University student sub-unit of the American Fisheries Society and treasurer of the Clemson Bass Fishing Team — I’ve been a member of the bass team since my freshman year.

Fishing and field studies

At Clemson, I have helped identify macroinvertebrates and monitor water quality in a lab led by Jeremy Pike. I earned this job through a Georgia Adopt-A-Stream certification course that I attended through an internship led by SCDNR Heritage Preserve Manager Johnny Stowe.

I have been lucky enough to be a part of the SCDNR Internship Program for two consecutive years now. During the summer of 2016, I had the opportunity to work with the “fire man” of DNR, Johnny Stowe. I was a Heritage Preserve intern for the Pee Dee Region in the wildlife section of DNR. Johnny recognized my passion for fisheries early on and instilled an interest in freshwater mussels. SCDNR’s Alan Bridgeman got me involved in photomonitoring, red-cockaded woodpecker cavity inspections and preserve management. I helped with prescribed fires and a habitat restoration plan for the endangered Carolina heelsplitter. Johnny and I even co-wrote two posters, one that was presented at the 11th Biennial Longleaf Alliance Conference and the second at the 20th Anniversary of the Joint Meeting of S.C. Fishery Workers Association and the S.C. Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. My experience with Johnny Stowe was truly life-changing, and I now have a friend for a lifetime. “Share the Flame” Johnny!

D.J. Jones implementing a prescribed fire at Longleaf Pine Heritage Preserve in Lee County.

During this past summer I worked at the Cohen Campbell Fish Hatchery in West Columbia. I was a part of mussel propagation trials in preparation to grow Carolina heelsplitters at this facility. I got to infest host fish with larval mussels (glochidia) and examine transformed larval mussels under a microscope. Fish rearing, harvesting and stocking efforts were all part of my job at this hatchery. We discussed future mussel sampling at a joint meeting with North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Duke Energy and the SCDNR.

My second home at SCDNR

I got to work alongside some knowledgeable and passionate people this summer and I now look at Cohen Campbell as a second home.

From my experiences in college and the impacts of the SCDNR internship program I am pursuing a career in fisheries. As I near my graduation date in May 2018, I am starting to look at graduate programs in order to learn techniques and skills to bring back to the state. Of course, I am thankful for my family for always supporting my dreams and for my peers for steering me toward discovering my passion.

Tight lines, D.J.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on South Carolina Wild are solely those of the authors, and do not reflect official policies, positions, or endorsements of activity or products by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.