Citizen Science

Out in the Field: Erik Heitmann

erik-heitmann-evaErik Heitmann is a citizen scientist with Maine Audubon’s Brook Trout Pond Survey program.

This past summer, he visited a remote pond in northern Maine with his daughter, Eva, searching for the presence of native brook trout. Survey information collected by anglers will be used to help identify populations of brook trout to be eligible for conservation management practices. To learn how you can get involved in the Brook Trout Pond Survey, visit

What does conservation mean to you?
Conservation was a word I knew while growing up, but didn’t fully realize its importance. Now I think there is a big difference between conservation and preservation. Conservation is about being conscious – to be aware of what you give and take from nature while you enjoy the outdoor. For instance, you see a sandwich bag along the side of the river while you are fishing – you pick it up. Always keep your impact down while you are out there and be sure to teach the young ones the same concepts.

How did you first hear about Maine Audubon?
My recollection is that I was probably younger than 10 years old. A friend’s mother was an avid bird watcher and I heard about it from her.

Why did you choose to become a Maine Audubon volunteer?
I love trout fishing! Any reason to go trout fishing is enough of an excuse for me. I feel so fortunate to have been able to go to some of the remote ponds and that I was able to take my oldest daughter and share the experience with her.

What do you hope your volunteer work will accomplish?
These streams and ponds are as old as the glaciers and wildlife managers need to know about them. Someone could stock them with pickerel and who would know? Maine has one of the best trout fisheries in the country and this project helps us maintain that status. I plan on helping with the survey until all the ponds have been catalogued.

What has been your favorite moment as a volunteer?
Slashing through the thick forest and suddenly coming upon a body of water. This even got Eva excited and distracted as she fought off the mosquitos!

What’s your favorite place in Maine?
That’s sort of a loaded question for me. I grew up in the coastal Blue Hill area of Maine so I’ve got that blood in me. Inland, I love the Rangeley area, especially for fishing, but Baxter holds a lot of memories from days with my grandfather. I really can’t tell you one place that is my favorite and that’s a testament to how great a state we live in.

What’s your favorite Maine wildlife species?
Brook trout!