I’ll be honest with you - I don’t really like to write. I never have, not even on birthday cards. But the amazing thing is, I’m so excited about Sena Sea and our mission, that I am up late writing up a storm for you.
You see, for me Sena Sea is beyond my dream job. It is about everything in my life working together and coming full circle. I would like to fill you in on my background so you know where I am coming from when I talk about fishing, health, nutrition, cooking, family and lifestyle in my emails and blogs. I want you to know that I come from a fishing family, have a degree in Nutrition, and a Master's degree in Food Science, wrote my thesis on fish, have published a paper about omega 3’s, worked for 8 years in a food company and I am a mother of three kids with multiple food allergies. So basically, I’m the real deal - you can trust me about all things fish, food and family. If you let me get this all out right here, I promise I won’t bore you with it anymore!
Let me start at the beginning. Obviously, growing up in a fishing family is a big part of my story. But I didn’t just have a dad that fished, my grandpa, his brothers and my uncles all fished too. Boat life was everyday life, and wrapped up in holidays too (we would usually visit the boat when we got all dressed to see my grandparents on holidays). Bidding farewell to the boats as they left the locks and headed for Alaska was a major event, and a type of family get-together.
But what I didn’t recognize until much later (when I was home with 3 kids), was that I don’t just come from a long line of fishermen, I come from a long line of fisherman wives. Strong women that raised families while on their own a lot. Women that shoulder worry, and embrace the ups and downs of fishing life. The life of a fisherman’s wife is one that I chose, knowing full well what I was getting into.
1985. Seeing my Dad off to Alaska for the season. You can see my sisters, aunt and cousin. I'm in the middle, rocking the jean jacket.
When I first started college (Central Washington University) I wanted to fly airplanes - until I flew an airplane! I figured out very quickly that flight wasn’t for me, and luckily found my way to Nutrition. Nutrition was a natural fit. My mom had owned a health food store, and of course we ate a very healthy fish-based diet growing up. I still absolutely love the field of Nutrition and since I am a lifelong learner, keep up with all the latest info. It's a good thing too, because the field of Nutrition has changed A LOT since the 90’s. For me, a major role as mom is to be the family nutritionist, and I take that job very seriously.
Upon graduation, I took a different direction. instead of becoming a Registered Dietician (like most my classmates), I went to grad school at Oregon State University and earned a Master's Degree in Food Science. Can you guess what my specialization was? Fish of course! I did most of my graduate work at the OSU Seafood Lab in Astoria, working directly with the West Coast Albacore Tuna fishermen. Mmmm, we ate a lot of great tuna loins back then. I isolated and measured the omega 3 fatty acids in tuna, and published a paper “The Quantification and Distribution of Fatty Acids in West Coast Albacore Tuna (Thunnus Alalungus)”. It was pretty boring and nobody read it. I don’t think my parents even read it. I also studied different onboard handling methods of fish and correlated them to sensory attributes using a trained sensory panel.
2002. This is my adviser (Dr Morrissey) and I, just moments after passing my defense and graduating from grad school.
Right after grad school, I landed my dream job, and immediately started work at a food company. No, it didn’t have anything to do with fish, but it was full of food science. I worked in a food lab in the Research and Development department. It was an amazing working environment, full of collaboration with great food scientists, chefs, sensory experts, production and sales. I also worked in the quality department, specializing in statistical process control and other analytics. Although I loved my job, after 8 years, we decided to move the family out to the mountains for a simpler lifestyle.
2014. We like our kids like we like our fish - wild!
For four years, my primary job has been to stay home and raise our three kids. Just keeping them clothed (sometimes optional) and putting meals on the table is a full time job, especially when dealing with multiple food allergies and living an hour away from everything. Then one day, BOOM! Rich and I had an epiphany to sell his fish ourselves, to connect with a community of people that care about where their fish comes from and to share our story. And so here I am, up late at night writing to you and feeling more energized than ever because I have this unique opportunity to share the complete me with you. Now that’s coming full circle!
Eat fish and be happy,
- Sena C Wheeler
Sena holds degrees in nutrition and food science in addition to being a Mom, foodie, and third generation fisherman's wife. Visit her at SenaSea.com where she blogs about family, fish and food.
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