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Lake Effect: the science and importance of Great Salt Lake

Jaimi Butler stands smiling, with Great Salt Lake in the background. She is a woman with light brown hair.
NICOLE MORGENTHAU
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Jaimi Butler: coordinator (and co-founder) of Westminster's Great Salt Lake Institute. She eads undergraduates in researching brine shrimp and pelican populations. Jaimi is the co-writer of the children's book "The Great Great Salt Lake Mystery." Advocate for all things Great Salt Lake. Jaimi is featured here on the causeway heading out to Antelope Island. She counts birds from the causeway and at several other areas along the island.

My name is Jaimi Butler. And I've spent half of my 46 years studying the science and the people and the ecology of Great Salt Lake.

I didn't know that I wanted to work at Great Salt Lake and I actually accidentally started working there, right out of college and I never stopped. I've been a biologist for the brine shrimp industry. I've worked in academia. And I've also worked with government agencies helping to manage the resources of the lake.

I have been fortunate as a woman in a very predominantly man's world, you know, brine shrimp industry and even the state, like I've been really, really lucky to be encouraged along the way to do the work that I wanted to do. And not every person has that.

I’ve devoted a lot of my time to telling people about the lake and helping people understand why we shouldn't let it disappear, why we shouldn't just dry it up. And so, I hope that the work that I've done has helped to shape perceptions about Great Salt Lake and I think it has. I think that so many of us have been working for Great Salt Lake for so long that people are starting to understand that we really need to have Great Salt Lake. If we don't, we have environmental and cultural and economic catastrophe, and I am not going to shut up until people understand that.

Ellis Juhlin is a science reporter here at Utah Public Radio and a Master's Student at Utah State. She studies Ferruginous Hawk nestlings and the factors that influence their health. She loves our natural world and being part of wildlife research. Now, getting to communicate that kind of research to the UPR listeners through this position makes her love what she does even more. In her free time, you can find her outside on a trail with her partner Matt and her goofy pups Dodger and Finley. They love living in a place where there are year-round adventures to be had!
Aimee Van Tatenhove is a science reporter at UPR. She spends most of her time interviewing people doing interesting research in Utah and writing stories about wildlife, new technologies and local happenings. She is also a PhD student at Utah State University, studying white pelicans in the Great Salt Lake, so she thinks about birds a lot! She also loves fishing, skiing, baking, and gardening when she has a little free time.