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Tom Timmermann, District Fisheries Biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, and his wife, Jen, stop with their daughter, Caelin, to show her what has fallen from a tree at the park. "She's my little nature baby," says Tom. He feels it is his responsibility to give Caelin an appreciation for the earth. For him, the most rewarding part of being a father is how inquisitive Caelin is and witnessing that moment when he can tell she's getting something for the first time.

Fishing for more

story by Lydia Schweickart

The wind is crisp and unsympathetic at 8 a.m. on Cave Run Lake. Tom Timmermann braces himself against the morning air with rain gear and scraped hands, cutting through waves in his outboard boat.

He gillnets fish to sample for his annual report as part of his work as a District Fisheries biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife at the Minor E. Clark Fish Hatchery. The samples will help determine the size and creel limits for fishing in the 23 counties he supervises. Tom feels it is his responsibility to enhance and preserve the environment.

"Anybody that gets into natural resources, you're getting into it for the love of something," he says. "Fishery was my first love."

Tom was inspired to pursue his career thanks to an uncle who studied wildlife biology. Tom's father was distant from Tom as a child, and his uncle stepped in as a role model. "It was absolutely every bit his influence and his help and his advice that got me here,” says Tom.

Scott Barrett started working at the hatchery the same time as Tom. “We’re somewhat of a family,” says Scott. “It’s good having someone you can talk and relate to. He’s professional, knowledgeable . . . He’s just a good fella.”

Tom met his wife, Jen, through his first boss at the fish hatchery. The two have been married for five years. “He’s 100 percent my very best friend,” says Jen. The two have a daughter, Caelin, 3. “Caelin is absolutely his No. 1 concern," Jen continues. "He does everything he can for us.”

Caelin is described by Tom and Jen as their “little nature baby.” She’ll come home from preschool with dirt, acorns and leaves shoved in her pockets.  That's fine with Tom. "As adults that have an appreciation for the outdoors, it’s our responsibility to make sure that gets passed on to as many people as it can,” Tom explains. “I feel like it’s my responsibility to make sure it gets passed on to Caelin.”

"Our goal at this point is to lay that foundation of an interest in nature," Tom says. "That day that she becomes bored with mom and dad, at least she’ll say, ‘Hey you know what? My dad's a big nerd, he embarrasses me, but at least he's got a really cool job – and a really important job.’”

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Tom Timmermann, District Fisheries Biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife flips his daughter, Caelin, while the two play outside. "The important thing at this point is that I work on maintaining my relationship with her moving forward as she gets older," he says. "There's gonna come a day that she doesn't like me, when I'm just a nerdy dad or whatever, but our goal at this point is to lay that foundation of an interest in nature."

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Tom Timmermann, right, and his co-worker Chad Nickell stop along a bank of Cave Run lake to record data from their gillnetting sample. Tom is a District Fisheries Biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, and is responsible for determining size and creel limits for his district.

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Tom Timmerman, District Fisheries Biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, gathers gillnetting samples from Cave Run Lake with his co-worker, Chad. Tom explains that people will often see them hunting deer or harvesting fish and think that all they're doing is taking from the environment, but in reality they're giving so much back. The fish that Tom collects will provide information that can help maintain and enhance Cave Run Lake. When faced with a problem in the environment, Tom explains, "Most people say, 'Well that's a shame,' and they move on. It's our job to say, 'Well that's a shame, let's do something about it.'"

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Tom Timmerman, District Fisheries Biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, removes a fish from a net as part of sampling on Cave Run Lake. "I think it's an interesting dynamic with hunters and fisherman and the environment," he says. "Most of us recognize that if we're not good stewards of the environment, we won't have the opportuntities to go hunting and fishing like we have."

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Tom Timmermann and his coworker, Chad Nickell, crack jokes while collecting sampling data from Cave Run Lake. Tom is a District Fisheries Biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. Tom views the people he works with as a family. "You have to be close with the guys you work with," he says. Tom was first introduced to this profession by his uncle Andy. "Someone pays me to go out and play with fish and wildlife and be outdoors everyday," says Tom. "I can't imagine doing anything else."

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Tom Timmermann plays a fishing game with his 3-year-old daughter, Caelin. Tom is a District Fisheries Biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife and works to pass down an appreciation for the environment and the outdoors to his daughter. Tom's wife of 5 years, Jen, says that Tom and Caelin are "similar in the sense that they're both very curious."

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Tom Timmerman, District Fisheries Biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, works to piece together a puzzle with his 3-year-old daughter, Caelin, and wife, Jen, as Caelin's bedtime approaches.

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Tom Timmermann, District Fisheries Biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, brushes through his 3-year-old daughter Caelin's hair while his wife of five years, Jen, reads her a bedtime story.

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Tom Timmerman, District Fisheries Biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, and his wife Jen read a bedtime story to their 3-year-old daughter, Caelin. "She is so much like him, and a lot more than I think he realizes or sees," Jen says. She descibes Tom as very family oriented, "We're just grateful for him everyday."

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