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Symposium highlights UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant impacts

When Hurricane Matthew washed away 30 percent of Georgia’s sandy coastline last October, UGA was ready.

With funding from Georgia Sea Grant, the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography already was studying sand resources and creating an inventory of sand deposits along the coast. Researchers are using that inventory to identify areas where sand was available to replenish the coastline that was lost during the storm. Replacing the lost sand is important to protect lives and property, as well as critical habitats, from coastal hazards.

Clark Alexander presents at the symposium.

“The sand resources in our state waters are the most poorly known of all the states along the east coast,” said Clark Alexander, interim director of Skidaway Institute. “This research enables us to create maps identifying offshore areas that are suitable for beach nourishment and habitat restoration projects. With these data, we can know where suitable sand exists if we need it in the future after major storms.”

Alexander was one of many researchers across Georgia who presented a project during the Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant Research Symposium in Athens on June 1.

Marc Frischer discusses his research into black gill in shrimp.

The annual symposium provides an opportunity for researchers to share their Sea Grant-funded work, network with others in the scientific community and look for collaborative ways to tackle the latest issues impacting the coast.

“Case studies presented during the symposium aptly illustrated Georgia Sea Grant’s success in elevating awareness of coastal issues, increasing local communities’ resilience to the effects of a changing climate and developing models that can be replicated to improve conditions on a global scale,” said Paul Wolff, chair of the Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant Advisory Board.

Jay Brandes discusses his work with microplastics on the Georgia coast.

From projects that look at how to get local seafood into inland markets to those that measure the productivity of Georgia’s expansive salt marshes, Sea Grant-funded research spans a variety of topics and emphasizes the importance of multidisciplinary, collaborative research and outreach to effectively enhance coastal communities and ecosystems.

Research proposals submitted to Georgia Sea Grant are expected to include an education and outreach component to ensure that results reach beyond the research community and are delivered to a diverse audience. Education and extension faculty and staff at Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant work to incorporate Sea Grant-funded research into public programs, workshops and curricula targeted to pre-k through college age students, resource managers, decision makers, the seafood industry and beyond.

Kayla Clark describes the Georgia Sea Grant intern program.

“We received a record number of research funding preproposals this year and many of those submitting full proposals attended the research symposium,” said Mark Risse, director of Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. “Being able to learn from projects that have proved successful should strengthen research efforts and allow us to support projects that move rapidly to application and impact.”

Other presenters from the Skidaway Marine Science Campus included Jay Brandes, Marc Frischer, Anne Lindsay and Kayla Clark.

 

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Devotion to the Ocean: Savannah YOCS 2017

by McKenna Lyons
Sea Grant Intern

The University of Georgia’s third annual Youth Ocean Conservation Summit took place earlier this year at UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant on Skidaway Island. Thirty students between the ages of 12 and 17 heard from engaging keynote speakers, participated in skill-building workshops and created their own initiatives to tackle current conservation issues.

This event had been many months in the making, organized by the me and the three other Georgia Sea Grant interns at the Marine Education Center and Aquarium. I can’t say I was surprised by the vast number of logistics that had to be tackled in order to pull off this event. However, several things did catch me off-guard. First and foremost was the task of creating a project that would challenge the students to think critically and enthusiastically about conservation issues that were important to them.

Mare Timmons works with a summit student.

In turn, making a worksheet with guided questions challenged us to think about the important components of creating a conservation initiative. There was a good deal of mentally stimulating work to be done, which was a facet of the project that I greatly appreciated. Challenging ourselves to create a thorough program led to a successful event in which students not only learned how to make change, but also took the first steps towards doing so. Their projects addressed issues such as marine debris, deforestation and coral bleaching caused by sunscreen. It was extremely rewarding to see the students tackle what we had prepared for them with such enthusiasm.

Participants respond to a discussion.

A welcome surprise was the overwhelming amount of support we received as we were planning the event. Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant employees, both from Skidaway Island and from Brunswick, Ga., were invested in our project and happy to help. They did everything from advertising to presenting on the day of the workshop. Their help was essential to the successful implementation of the summit, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have such dedicated people supporting us. We also received outside support in the form of donations from Stream2Sea, the Tybee Island Marine Science Center and Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. The donations were given to participants, not only as goodies, but as a way to familiarize and connect them with these other outstanding organizations. The scientific community in Georgia is a close-knit network of people who support one another to advance change and make positive impacts. I’m pleased that we were able to introduce the summit participants to this community.

All of our planning and preparation culminated in a successful summit ripe with creativity, dedication and inspiration. Keynote speakers included Clayton Ferrara, the executive director of IDEAS For Us, and Olivia and Carter Ries , the founders of One More Generation. Our colleagues, along with speakers from One Hundred Miles, Leadership Savannah and Savannah State University led science workshops and skill-building activities. The day ended on a spectacular note, with groups of students presenting well-developed and creative plans to undertake conservation initiatives of their own design. I speak for all of the Georgia Sea Grant marine education interns when I say that we couldn’t have hoped for a better event. Everyone that participated in this summit was inspiring, and the involvement of so many young people was a testament to the fact that anyone, at any age, can make a difference.

Registration is now open for the 2017 Youth Ocean Conservation Summit

yocs-savannahUGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant is hosting Georgia’s third annual Youth Ocean Conservation Summit on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Marine Education Center and Aquarium on Skidaway Island. This summit, one of several taking place across the country, empowers students with the knowledge, skills and resources necessary to successfully implement ocean conservation projects.

The event will include skill-building workshops, brainstorming sessions, citizen science presentations and panels featuring professionals working on coastal issues in Georgia. At the end of the day, students will work together to develop and present ideas for conservation efforts that they can lead in their local communities. The event is being organized by the 2016-2017 Georgia Sea Grant Marine Education Interns Kira Krall, Hannah Kittler, Hannah Edwards and McKenna Lyons.

Online registration is open now and closes Jan. 18. The summit is limited to 50 students on a first-come, first-served basis. A $10 registration fee includes lunch and all materials. To register, complete the online registration form and payment.

For more information, visit the Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant website http://marex.uga.edu/yocs/.

 

Georgia Sea Grant education interns arrive at the coast

Four recent college graduates have been awarded one-year marine education internships with UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. Funded by Georgia Sea Grant, the interns will serve as educators for students, teachers and the general public.

The interns will spend 50 weeks on Skidaway Island at the Marine Education Center and Aquarium offering formal and informal educational programs focused on the ecology of Georgia’s coastal and estuarine ecosystems. Interns also will participate in community outreach by judging science fair projects, teaching during science nights at local schools and participating in events, like CoastFest and Skidaway Marine Science Day.

The interns were selected from an international pool of applicants and began their training in September. They are Kira Krall from Saint Petersburg, Fla.; Hannah Kittler from Adams, Mass.; Hannah Edwards from Navarre, Fla.; and McKenna Lyons from Beachs Park, Ill.

2016-2017 Georgia Sea Grant Education Interns (from left to right): Hannah Edwards, Kira Krall, McKenna Lyons, and Hannah Kittler

2016-2017 Georgia Sea Grant Education Interns (from left to right): Hannah Edwards, Kira Krall, McKenna Lyons, and Hannah Kittler

Kira Krall graduated from the University Florida with a degree in natural resource conservation. While in college, she volunteered for two years as a school programs docent for the Florida Museum of Natural History. After graduation, Kira worked as a teaching assistant for the Duke Talent Identification program’s marine science summer camps and as an environmental education intern at the Conservancy in Southwest Florida.

Hannah Kittler attended St. Michaels College in Vermont. She majored in biology and minored in chemistry and environmental studies. After graduation she worked at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center for a year as an environmental educator and spent time as a technician in their wildlife and aquatics lab.

Hannah Edwards received a degree in environmental science and policy from the University of South Florida. Hannah worked as a student teacher in high school, hosting field trips and community outreach Programs focused on marine ecosystems. In college, she volunteered at Sweetwater Organic Community Farm, educating groups about organic farming, the biology and significance of the diverse Sweetwater plants, and the importance of environmentally-friendly and sustainable life choices.

McKenna Lyons graduated with a degree in marine and atmospheric science from the University of Miami in Florida. She worked as a naturalist at the Biscayne Nature Center, leading summer camp groups on fishing trips in the local seagrass beds. Lyons taught students how to identify marine life, gave presentations on sea turtle life history and discussed human impacts on aquatic environments.

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant welcomes Emily Woodward

emily-wEmily Woodward is UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s new public relations coordinator. She’ll be taking over the communications program in place of Jill Gambill, who was recently promoted to UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s coastal community resilience specialist and public service assistant. Woodward will be based on Skidaway Island at the Shellfish Research Lab.

In her role, she will work to improve the visibility of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant not only on the coast, but across the state of Georgia by promoting the latest marine research, educational opportunities, and outreach events on behalf of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant.

Throughout her professional career, Woodward has communicated the importance of science and natural resource conservation for government agencies, non-government organizations, and academic institutes. She understands the need to educate coastal communities about marine research and how it can be used to inform public policy and coastal management. She believes in the importance of helping humans understand natural systems by explaining their connections to them and the benefits they derive from them.

Most recently, Woodward served as the Communications Specialist at the North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve, a program managed through a state and federal partnership between NOAA and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Coastal Management. Some of her projects involved leading a communications and outreach campaign promoting the use of living shorelines for erosion control, writing articles focused on marine ecology and water quality research, and assisting with K-12 educational programs and training workshops designed for technical and real estate professionals. She has her bachelor’s degree in English from North Carolina State University.

Ribbon cutting, education activities draw a crowd to UGA Aquarium for World Oceans Day

As about 60 children and adults looked on, the University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant officially dedicated a covered pavilion at the UGA Skidaway Island campus on Wednesday, June 8th.

Pavilion photo w

The pavilion was made possible by a gift from Gus Arrendale, III and Springer Mountain Farms, which paid for construction materials for the pavilion. Volunteers from The Landings residential community on Skidaway Island, who call themselves the Barn Builders, constructed the facility.

“I want to express deep gratitude to Gus Arrendale of Springer Mountain Farms,” Jennifer Frum, UGA vice president for public service and outreach, told the crowd. “His gift was really the catalyst that allowed us to complete the pavilion. I want you all to go home and eat either wild-caught Georgia shrimp or Springer Mountain Farms’ chicken.”

Frum also acknowledged the contribution of the Barn Builders, led by Lars Ljungdahl, who spoke at the ribbon cutting.

The celebration was part of a day of educational activities that drew nearly 300 people to the aquarium to celebrate World Oceans Day. Visitors were treated to a behind the scenes look at the aquarium, educational programs on reptiles and ocean preservation, and animal feedings. Guests who attended the pavilion dedication were admitted to the aquarium for free from 3 p.m. until closing.

The Springer Mountain Farms Pavilion, named for the company founded and run by Gus Arrendale III, has running water and electricity and provides a much-needed space for outdoor education.

Private funding is critical for further aquarium expansion, said Mark Risse, director of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant.

“It was the local community that really made this happen,” Risse said. “We hope the kids will get a chance to enjoy it. ”

Ruth Bartlett, UGA Alumni Association president, presented an additional gift to Marine Extension from Arrendale for Marine Extension. Bartlett is a long-time friend of Arrendale, who was not available to attend the ribbon cutting.

“The main thing is it helps all these children that come to the summer camps and throughout the school year,” Bartlett said. Gus “was really tickled about that.”

June 8 is designated by the United Nations as World Oceans Day to celebrate conservation of this important resource around the world.

Learn more about the UGA Aquarium at http://marex.uga.edu/aquarium.