Four graduate students selected for Georgia Sea Grant State Fellowship

by Hayley Hunter

Four graduate students will gain hands-on experience in the planning and implementation of coastal and marine policies and programs in Georgia as part of their Georgia Sea Grant State Fellowships. The year-long fellowships offer a unique opportunity for students to work in host offices that include state and federal government agencies as well as non-governmental partners and industries in Georgia.

“We’re excited to be working with a great group of partners to provide these incredible opportunities for students who will gain invaluable insights that shape their future,” said Mark Risse, director of Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. “It’s a win-win for everyone, as our partners will benefit from having talented students helping them solve critical coastal issues.”

The 2021-2022 fellows will work with the following partners: Georgia Audubon, NOAA Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, the Georgia DNR’s Coastal Management Program, Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve and Sapelo Island Cultural and Revitalization Society.

Victoria Baglin has a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from South Georgia State College. She is currently pursuing her master’s in biology at Georgia Southern University. Baglin’s graduate research focuses on assessing the effects of climate change on leaf decomposition rates and the macroinvertebrate communities that

support decomposition processes. As a fellow with NOAA Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, Baglin will advance several science, policy, and planning projects and programs, while gaining the diverse skills and professional experience necessary to succeed in a natural resource management career.

“The Georgia Sea Grant State Fellowship will not only allow me to engage in personal career development planning, but it will also allow me to contribute and participate in solving important environmental problems while addressing real-world issues faced by conservation managers,” Baglin said.

Kim Savides received a bachelor’s in wildlife science from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. As a master’s student at Utah State University, she is studying the migratory timing and routes of the Lazuli Bunting, a small songbird native to the western U.S. Her fellowship

at Georgia Audubon will involve expanding their coastal program with new bird research and monitoring, as well as public education and outreach about bird conservation.

“This fellowship is an exceptionally exciting opportunity that will allow me to build upon my research and monitoring experiences while also allowing me to interact with and engage a variety of resource managers, stakeholders and the public,” Savides said.

Shannon Matzke graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in coastal environmental science. She is currently a master’s student in the biology department at Georgia Southern University. She is finishing up her thesis on Tybee Island’s coastal sand dune restoration project. Matzke will be working in the Georgia Coastal

Management Program, which is led by Georgia DNR’s Coastal Resources Division. She will assist with updating the Coastal Nonpoint Source Pollution program. While working on the project, she will experience active coastal management as well as gain key skills in coastal policy, resource management, stakeholder engagement and public interaction.

“This fellowship will introduce me to the policy side of coastal environmental work which will help me to better understand the ins and outs of current and future restoration projects,” Matzke said.

Hannah Morris has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from UGA and a master’s degree in anthropology from Ohio State University. She is currently a Ph.D. student in the integrative conservation program at UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resource Management where she is studying land

use history and forest change on several barrier islands off the Georgia coast. As a state fellow, Morris will be working with the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Sapelo Island Cultural and Revitalization Society to work on enhancing the resilience of Hog Hammock, a private community on Sapelo Island widely known as the last “Saltwater Geechee” community on the east coast. In her role, she will draft comprehensive flood mitigation recommendations to address the types of flooding impacting the community.

“This fellowship will allow me to bring my knowledge of that history, along with the skills and training I’ve received in my education, to address some of the most pressing conservation issues our coast faces, including climate change, land use change and socio-environmental justice,” Morris said.

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