“People of the Sturgeon” lives on, online!

While the highly successful “Ancient Survivors” exhibit about lake sturgeon at Fond du Lac’s Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts is now over, you can still keep learning about the history and culture of this revered fish.

Morgan Witte presented her work on sturgeon-related projects at a library conference, where she won “Best Content” for her poster during the poster session. (Submitted photo)

Yesterday, Morgan Witte treated Wisconsin Sea Grant staff to an informal lunchtime talk. Morgan is a graduate project assistant who has worked on a range of sturgeon-related projects during her time with Sea Grant and the Wisconsin Water Library.

While she worked intensively with senior special librarian Anne Moser on the Fond du Lac exhibition, she also prepared audio files connected to the book from which the exhibit took its inspiration (“People of the Sturgeon: Wisconsin’s Love Affair with an Ancient Fish,” Wisconsin Historical Society Press).

The award-winning book was written by Kathy Kline, Fred Binkowski and Ronald Bruch, and it is now available in a paperback edition.

Over 50 hours of audio reflecting 69 interviews conducted for the “People of the Sturgeon” book have now been added to the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections, where they can be accessed indefinitely at a permanent URL.

With over 8,000 visitors to the “Ancient Survivors” exhibit in Fond du Lac—the second biggest audience ever for an exhibit at the “Thelma,” as it’s called—there is clearly a passionate interest in the history and culture of sturgeon in Wisconsin.

While all of the audio interviews shed light on this topic, Morgan said she particularly enjoyed interviews with Binkowski (interviewed by Kathy Kline), an aquaculture outreach specialist with Sea Grant, and Mary Lou Schneider (interviewed by Pat Braasch), a master decoy carver.

Working on these sturgeon projects during her time as a graduate assistant has given Morgan valuable insight into the outreach and communications aspects of librarianship. She expects to finish her master’s degree at UW-Madison’s Information School in December and then pursue a position in an academic library, preferably a science-focused one.

Her experience has benefited Sea Grant as well, making sure the important research and oral history work done by the “People of the Sturgeon” authors lives on, adding to the experience of reading the book.