Our dedicated and experienced staff has helped create and nurture our program.

Josh Gubits
ph: 406.261.7885

Josh is the coordinator for the Northwest Montana Lakes Volunteer Monitoring Network (NWMTLVMN), a position he holds as a contractor to the Whitefish Lake Institute (WLI). Josh moved to Montana from New Mexico to finish his undergraduate degree at the University of Montana. While in school, Josh worked as a fishing guide on the Blackfoot, Clark Fork, Bitterroot and Missouri rivers. After graduation, he worked for the Audubon Society to develop education and outreach programs in Santa Fe. He then spent five years as the Environmental Scientist for WLI where he also coordinated the NWMTLVMN. Prior to WLI, he worked for the Watershed Education Network as the Field Programs Coordinator where he spent four years teaching more than 10,000 teachers, students and volunteers about water quality, through the collection of chemical, biological and physical data on stream sites across Western Montana.

Josh is a certified Montana Master Naturalist, and in 2009 he was the recipient of the Montana Water Teacher of the Year award presented by the Montana Environmental Education Association. He received the Flathead Audubon Conservation Achievement Award in 2014.

Josh enjoys spending his free time camping, fishing and playing in the water with his family. During the winter Josh can be found at his fly tying bench or waist deep in his favorite runs chasing steelhead.

Mike Koopal
ph: 406.862.4327

Mike founded the Whitefish Lake Institute in 2005 and serves as the Executive Director. He’s originally a flatlander from Iowa with a biology degree from Luther College. Mike's professional career began with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks as a fisheries technician working in the Clark Fork and Blackfoot River drainages. Mike then traveled to Nevada to study Lahontan Cutthroat trout for the Summit Lake Paiute Tribe, and in Alaska he worked with sockeye salmon for the Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation. Upon his return to Montana, Mike was a partner at Watershed Consulting for eight years where he specialized in fisheries related issues.

Mike serves on the Flathead Basin Commission Monitoring Committee, the Flathead CORE Watershed Education Committee, and assists the Bigfork Stormwater Advisory Committee. Mike also recently co-coordinated the 2nd Edition of the Montana Lake Book. In 2008, Mike was presented an Individual Achievement Award by the Montana Chapter of the American Fisheries Society for his outstanding contribution to the protection and enhancement of fisheries resources in Montana.

Mike's recreational time is spent with his wife Mae and son Case, enjoying the seasonal changes of the Flathead Valley. They also enjoy increasing the sustainability of their small acreage by gardening and raising chickens and bees.



John Wachsmuth
ph: 406.751.4554

John received his B.S. from the University of Montana Forestry School in Natural Resource Management in 1981. He’s the first to admit he was on the 10 year program, enjoying the outdoors he was studying.  Fly fishing, rafting, hiking, and skiing kept him pretty busy. After getting his first sheepskin, John took his first job with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (MFWP) in Eastern Montana, based out of Miles City, where he assisted on a sauger and shovelnose sturgeon fisheries study on the Tongue, Powder, and Yellowstone rivers.

After completing that study he came to Northwestern Montana to work on a Bull trout study in the Swan Valley which identified key Bull trout spawning streams and habits in all the tributaries on the Swan and Mission sides of the valley.

John worked on collecting baseline water quality and fisheries data on Hungry Horse Reservoir, helped develop the Flathead Basin Commission and Thompson Chain of Lakes pilot citizen volunteer lakes monitoring programs and also spearheaded the formation of the Whitefish to Eureka citizen volunteer lakes monitoring program which is a partnership with Whitefish Lake Institute.  He also took the lead in forming the Northwest Montana Lakes Volunteer Monitoring Network.

John was instrumental in the formation of the steering committees to help write the first and second editions of the “Montana Lake Book, Actions You Can Take to Protect Your Lake” and worked on acquiring the funding needed to publish the two editions. He has also been instrumental in working on education and outreach regarding Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) in the Flathead Basin. Additionally, John worked on the MFWP technical writing committee in the early 1990’s to produce the Montana Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan.
Being the late bloomer that he is, John recently completed his M.S. from the University of Denver (D.U.) in Aquatic Natural Resource Management with an emphasis on AIS.


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