For 28 years when the aquaculture industry needed help, whom did they go to, Gary Fornshell of course. Gary’s aquaculture career started while working in the Peace Corps in Zaire. He went on to receive his masters Degree in Aquaculture at Auburn in 1986 and has worked for the University of Idaho since 1992, retiring in June 2020. His approach has always been to help the fish farmer, grounded in science, he relied on common sense and working in the realities of commercial farming. His fortitude for going beyond expectations was evident while working and collaborating with colleagues like Carole Engle on the National Aquaculture Effluent Task Force that was reassessing the National Pollution Discharge Effluent Elimination System. In short order Gay found the money for an economic study on the impacts of the proposed rules and collecting on-farm production and financial data. The study led to a journal article that the USEPA had to consider in its final ruling, which ultimately staved off the regulatory rules that would have put small-scale trout farmers out of business.
Throughout his career Gary has showed leadership and willingness to work collaboratively on research projects like the economic impacts of regulations, fish health concerns, Seafood Watch Trout Recommendations, developing the Seafood at its Best curriculum, and looking for new aquaculture species (Freshwater cod) that could expand farmers operations. His extension efforts disseminated the data on many research projects to farmers in a straightforward understandable manner.
Gary has served on the Board and as president of many regional and national aquaculture organizations including President of the United States Trout Farmers Association and of the U S Aquaculture Society. He is known for organizing workshops, trout sessions and seminars – bringing researchers and farmers together to solve issues and advance the industry. Among the accolades and awards Gary has received is the Distinguished Service Award from the USAS and the Clark and Mimi White Distinguished Service Award for a lifetime of service from the USTFA, plus being acknowledged as the Ugliest Trout Farmer by the USTFA.
But what we all cherish about Gary is his likeability, willingness to help, quietly working without fanfare behind the scenes on issues important to fish farmers, and getting the job done. When asked what his greatest achievement has been, he said, “developing the personal relationships with the industry people.” And in retirement Gary is still willing to serve as an advisor to the USTFA. Gary, thanks for all your time and service to the industry. We hope you take some “me time” and wet a line now and then.