As a Fellow and Life Member of the American Fisheries Society (AFS), Dr. Gerald (Jerry) R. Bouck served as President of the Western Division of AFS and the Bioengineering Section. Throughout his career, Jerry made significant contributions to fisheries science, specifically in the fields of fish physiology, water quality, toxicology and bio-engineering. His leadership and innovative vision for understanding the effects of water quality on fish physiology and health, led to the development of important tools to help measure and predict the impacts of water quality on growth and survival of fishes. Jerry promoted the benefits of leadership and participation in AFS, and helped to convene several national and international workshops and meetings.
In honor of Jerry and his significant contributions to fish science, the Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society (ORAFS), a 501(3C) non-profit organization, has established a scholarship fund to recognize and assist graduate students pursuing a career in fisheries research relevant to fish physiology, water quality, toxicology, bio-engineering or fish culture. The Scholarship will consider applications from any graduate student nationwide, who is a current member of the American Fisheries Society or its chapters, including but not limited to ORAFS, and is conducting studies within the aforementioned research disciplines.
Life Story & Background:
Home Grown in Michigan:
Gerald (Jerry) Bouck was born in Owosso, Michigan on August 22nd, 1934. Times were tough growing up on a small farm in the era of the great depression, so he learned to hunt, and fish, as well as trap mink & muskrat.
Korean War Veteran - Air Force Survival Instructor:
His outdoor skills served him very well during the Korean War, where he was an Air Force Survival Training Instructor or what would now be called a SERE Specialist (Survival, Evasion, Resist, and Escape). His initial training was at Sampson Air Force base in New York, but was later stationed at Stead Air Force base outside of Reno Nevada.
As a Survival Instructor, he was responsible for training bomber pilots and their flight crews how to survive, escape and evade the enemy if they were shot down in Korean enemy territory. He trained these men in the high altitude, rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains near Lake Tahoe and Mt. Rose, usually during deep snows of winter, and extreme heat in the summers. On one occasion, a blizzard struck high in the Sierra Mountains, and he hiked all night in the dark, down to the small town of Truckee to reach a telephone, so he could call the base, and initiate an emergency evacuation of his men. He was honorably discharged in September 1957. During his tenure at Stead Air Force Base, he met Sue Coffill, who he happily married on August 26th, 1956, leading to a very happy, 60 year marriage.
First Bouck to complete college & Graduate School:
After being discharged, Jerry returned to his home state of Michigan to begin his college education at Central Michigan University where he later earned his B.S. Degree in Biology and Chemistry. He then applied to, and was accepted in to the Michigan State University graduate school, where he earned a M.S. Degree in Fishery Biology & Physiology. Jerry was then honored as a National Institute of Health Pre-doctoral Fellow, which ultimately allowed him to earn his Ph.D in Fisheries and Wildlife (1966) with an emphasis in physiological ecology. He was the first Bouck in his family and his generations to complete college, let alone go on to earn a doctorate degree.
Save the Salmon - Onward to Oregon
After completing his doctorate in 1966, Jerry accepted a research position with the water quality lab, in Corvallis, Oregon, which later became the Environmental Protection Agency. His life’s mission was to protect salmon from thermal pollution in the Columbia River Basin, as well as from pulp and paper trade wastes, heavy metal mining wastes, and gas supersaturation from the Columbia River dams. He and his team designed and created the Western Fish Toxicology station in Corvallis, which ultimately received both the EPA’s Silver Medal and an EPA Gold Medal for Environment Protection.
Professional Expertise in Fish Toxicology & Water Quality:
For over 30 years, Jerry’s favorite professional subject was gas supersaturation of fish (similar to the bends in deep sea divers), its causes, biological impacts, and remedies. He authored over 65 scientific reports published in peer reviewed journals, and contributed to several books including “Standard Methods for Examination of Water and Waste Water.” After many laboratory experiments and field investigations, he drafted for the National Academy of Science, what would ultimately become the EPA water quality criterion for total dissolved gases, adopted domestically in several states, as well as several international countries. During this time, he invented and published an inexpensive method of degassing water for use in public aquaria, hatcheries, and fishery laboratories. He shared his knowledge and expertise of gas supersaturations widely via numerous publications, as well as workshops, lectures, and visits to several countries.
Later in his career, he became Bonneville Power Administration’s Chief of Biological Research, where his primary concern was enhancing the salmon population, and administering projects to implement the Northwest Power Planning Council’s Fish and Wildlife program. He was responsible for funding over $16,000,000 in new projects each year, and tracking over $400,000,000 per year in existing projects. These projects included efforts both on wild salmon, such as improvement and monitoring on numerous streams, and on hatchery-produced salmon to improve their quality and quantity. For example, he funded the construction of a fish disease laboratory at Oregon State University, research on specific salmon pathogens, vaccine research, drug registration, hatchery surveys, use of supplemental oxygen, and an augmented fish health monitoring program in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Finally as Senior Scientist, Jerry represented the Bonneville Power Administration on the National Marine Fisheries Service’s interagency technical advisory panel that reviewed and evaluated all scientific data in petitions to list several Columbia River salmon stocks under the Federal Endangered Species Act.
Award Winning Scientific Career:
A life member of American Fisheries Society, Jerry served as President of the Western Division of AFS in 1977, helped to found the Portland Chapter, and also served as President of the Bioengineering Section (1987). In the Bioengineering Section, he was a leader in application of biological and engineering principles to improve the understanding of hatchery production, habitat restoration, and fish passage. The Section awarded Jerry their Distinguished Service Award for his contributions. Bouck was instrumental in the organization of a Fisheries Bioengineering Symposium held in Portland in 1988 that involved coordination of scientists and managers from 12 state and federal agencies. Bouck was elected as a Fellow of AFS in 2015, and was recognized at the Annual Meeting held in Portland, Oregon.
Jerry was also a member of Sigma XI, Pacific Fisheries Biologists (AIFRB), Association for the Sciences for Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), Ecology Society of America, Pacific Northwest Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. He was also a board member of the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, located in Hayward, Wisconsin.