Deep Dive into the Flathead Lake Biological Station: Welcome to the Bio Station
Written from the perspective of FLBS Media and Information Specialist Ian Withrow, each "Deep Dive into FLBS" column features entirely original content and provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse at Bio Station science, researchers, partners and programs. Future installments are scheduled to be published by the Bigfork Eagle the third Wednesday of each month.
I’m not a scientist.
It’s important that I get that out of the way, right here in the beginning. If this column is to have any credibility and sustainability at all, and it’s certainly my hope that it does, then, like science, it needs to be rooted in a place of truth.
Is it true that I’m currently employed by the University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Station (FLBS)? Yes. Just as it’s true that I make the drive to the Bio Station’s facilities in Yellow Bay each morning along Highway 35, donning apparel marked by the unique FLBS water droplet logo.
It’s true that you can often find me reporting on the front lines of important research projects, or out monitoring for invasive mussels and water quality on the Bio Station’s 30-foot research vessel, the Jessie B.
It’s true that I work alongside a cohort of scientists, each an expert in their respective field, and that I spend most of my time orbiting innovation, winding my way through mystery, gathering up evidence as I frantically synthesize all the information for others to know.
Mine is a job that digs into the very scientific marrow of the Flathead Watershed. But am I a scientist? No. Not even close.
The only sincere research I’ve conducted in recent years is determining the number of peanut M&Ms I can fit in my mouth at one time (a number that presently stands just north of 30, by the way, though I’m still awaiting the peer review).
What you can call me is a Montanan. Born in Whitefish, raised in Missoula, I’ve had the incredible fortune of finding my way back into the Flathead area after getting my undergraduate and graduate degrees on the East Coast.
Officially, the Bio Station has dubbed me a media and information specialist. A more appropriate title for the purposes of this column would probably be Tour Guide because from this point forward I plan on meeting you right here, in the pages of the Bigfork Eagle, where I will take you behind the scenes of our internationally-renowned Biological Station.
Together, we will ditch our cozy living rooms and coffeehouses in favor of the enthralling freshwater ecosystems of the Flathead Watershed and beyond. We will climb the granite peaks of Glacier National Park and plunge into the icy depths of Flathead Lake. We will stand on the front lines of the battle against aquatic invasive species, and learn all the wonderful things our Bio Station and partners are doing to keep our waters blue.
I’ll introduce you to some remarkable people as we go, and promise only the most unfiltered of glimpses as we explore all the cutting-edge research, monitoring and education programs that happen here each and every day.
So join me, won’t you? Let’s dive deep into this adventure together.
There’s no better time spent than in our Last, Best Place. I don’t need to be a scientist to know the truth in that.