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National Trout Center has new director

Fri, Feb 15th, 2013
Posted in Preston Features

Heath Sershen is the new Director of Programs and Operations at the National Trout Center.

When Heath Sershen of Winona was in graduate school, he set a goal that when he graduated, he would like to work at a non-profit organization as a director. He wanted to teach people about brown trout and the driftless area. It seems Sershen has found his dream job.

Currently, Sershen is working as the Director of the National Trout Center in Preston, and at the same time working on getting his Master Degree in outdoor education. While in college, Sershen wrote a paper on the Human Dimension of Brown Trout Angling.

“It’s all about the who, what, when, where and why people choose to participate in recreational activities,” said Sershen.

According to Sershen, trout fishing is a mult-trillion dollar industry; in this region alone $1.1 billion is spent annually on fishing. “It’s an average of $200 per day for one person for local economies,” he said. That average includes the cost of fishing equipment, lodging, traveling, and dining.

Sershen has always loved fishing, especially trout fishing in the Preston area. He learned from his dad how to build his own rods and how to enjoy fishing. He is now passing that along to his three-year-old son.

So far, Sershen is having a great time with his new position as Director of Programs and Operations. What this means is that Sershen is in charge of garnering and implementing funding for the National Trout Center. He is currently the only paid employee, and is paid through the city of Preston. Eventually they would like to be their own entity apart from the city.

Targeting organizations and developing partnerships is what he is spending most of his time on right now. He decribed an educational partnership with Winona State University. “It’s a program where students can come learn about angling trout and about the driftless area,” he said. “It’s to get kids out there so they can learn and experience it.”

He is also working on social media and the website to promote tourism in Preston, and the great trout fishing.

It’s not only outsiders that Sershen hopes to educate about this area. He knows there are a lot of local people that are not aware of the valuable resource right in Preston, and how much the area has to offer, not just for fishing, but for the enjoyment of nature.

The National Trout Center is still working on getting a state bond or other funding for a new building in Preston that would be a great draw for tourists, as well as a great educational tool.

“We will hopefully get some partnerships established that will help,” said Sershen. He added that a new building would open up a lot of opportunity. Right now he had to limit the number of students from WSU due to space. It could also prove a wonderful tool for scientists to research the different ecosystems with the living stream running through the building.

When Sershen catches a trout, he doesn’t kill them, but releases them back into the water. He recently caught a large brown trout that he has been trying to catch for five years. He took a picture of it, made sure it was doing well, and put it back.

“That one fish can produce thousands of yearling,” he said. “It would be detrimental to the ecosystem if it was removed.”

Sershen has fished for trout all over the United States, as well as Canada, New Zealand, and a little while he was in Costa Rica for school. His passion for trout fishing makes his position in Preston truly ideal, and he is excited to get the entire community involved. Sershen is involved in the Preston Chamber, and is working to rally more support for the Trout Center. He would also love to move his family to Preston one day.

Check out the website at for more information or go to the National Trout Center on Facebook.


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1:57:44, Feb 20th 2013

SteveO says:
The numbers in this article are flat out wrong. The GDP of the United States is approximately 15 trillion. To say trout fishing is a “multi-trillion” dollar industry simply can’t be true. That would mean 6-15% of our countries GDP is attributed to trout fishing. The phrase “in this region alone $1.1 billion is spent annually on fishing” has to be false as well. To use Sershen’s estimate of $200 a day, that would equal 5.5 million days spent fishing in the region. To put that in perspective, every resident of Fillmore County would have to fish 263 days a year for these numbers to hold true or every resident of Minnesota would have to fish in the region at least one day a year. According to the USDA, in 2006 there were 103,000 days spent trout fishing in MN. I know there are more fish than trout in this region and the numbers are from 2006, but 103,000 and 5,500,000 are way too big of a difference to be even close to accurate. As far as the $200 a day number, I believe that to be inaccurate as well. To include equipment into that estimate is stretching (it is not logical to assume one would purchase new equipment every time they go fishing.) There are many more comparisons I could make to prove my point, but I think you get it.

The premise of this article is solid and to point out the economic impact of trout fishing on the area is a thoughtful idea, but to use completely false numbers to prove that point is poor reporting.

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