Student Profile Bryce Althoff

Althoff uses Asperger syndrome to drive passion for outdoors

You might see him on campus, running on the street, or maybe in your local trout stream.

Bryce Althoff, a senior criminal justice and outdoor conservation major has followed his passion for the outdoors to Mount Mercy, wanting to have a career in outdoor conservation. 

“I want to focus my career in outdoor conservation on the restoration of natural habitats,” says Althoff.  Althoff states that Iowa has less than one percent of its natural habitat, but he hopes people with a passion for conservation can help to restore some of these habitats. 

Althoff has had a passion for the outdoors since he was young, especially being outside all of the time on his family farm north of Cascade, Iowa.  One hobby that Althoff really started to find an interest in was fishing.

“I started to become interested in fishing when I caught my first bass on an artificial lure. When I was 10 or 12, and from that point I started becoming interested in lures, fishing tactics, I started reading books and became really involved in the hobby of fishing.”  When he became a few years older, Althoff started to capture a love for fly-fishing and creating his own fly-fishing lures.  Althoff has caught more than a dozen species of  fish on his fly rod, and countless more using basic rod and reel technique fishing. 

Several of Althoff’s favorite fishing spots are located in northeast Iowa, including Bailey’s Ford; Brownsfield Creek at Camp C.S. Klaus, a Boy Scout camp; and the North Fork of the Maquoketa River.

“A lot of my spots are good habitats to catch different species of trout and small mouth bass,” says Althoff.

In college, Althoff’s passion for fishing met with his studies in outdoor conservation while working at an internship with the Manchester Fish Hatchery and the Iowa DNR.  Althoff worked with the fisheries group, going to local streams, rivers and lakes, counting and studying the population of different species of fish in each body of water and testing water quality.

“I want more people to pay attention in regards to our environment, especially those in government.  People must realize that our environment is more than just something beautiful to look it, it is also supplies are basic needs of food and water.  We need to protect it,” says Althoff.

Althoff’s power of focus, especially on fishing and other passions, is fueled by Asperger syndrome.  Althoff says he has struggled most of his life with it, but he says people are not familiar with this form of autism.

“My mom saw the potential signs for autism at an early age, which helped in my growing up as a person,” says Althoff.  Althoff says the syndrome deals mostly with socialization and connecting with other people.  People with Asperger syndrome are usually very quiet people and not very social, but Althoff is not like that at all. People with Asperger syndrome are very focused and pay attention to detail.

“We are very focused on one particular thing and we have an extreme passion and drive to learn more and more about one particular subject. We are like walking encyclopedias,” says Althoff. 

According to Althoff, people with Asperger syndrome usually find a passion for the sciences especially with factual stuff, and have a strict daily routine.

Outside of his studies, Althoff is a student athlete running cross country in the fall semester, and performing in track and field events in the winter and spring terms.  Althoff is also involved in Mount Mercy’s improv group Beggin’ for Mercy, Drama Club, and the STEPS Leadership program, helping out with Habitat for Humanity.

This Student Profile was written by Ben Wood, Editor-in-Chief, and was originally published in the Mount Mercy Times in the January 16, 2013, issue.