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Interns participate in shark identification training. Pictured left to right are: Caitlin Shea-Vantine, Yesenia Feliciano, Jessica Hernandez and Kayla Clark

Georgia Sea Grant welcomes 2015-2016 marine education interns

This year's group of interns brings a breadth knowledge and experience to the Marine Education Center and Aquarium

Athens, Georgia - 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, one of 33 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sea Grant programs located throughout the country, 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, part of Marine Extension, which is a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach. They will offer formal and informal educational programs focused on the ecology of Georgia's estuaries and coastal islands. Interns also will participate in community outreach by judging science fair projects, teaching during science nights at local schools and field-testing educational curricula.

The interns were selected from an international pool of applicants and began their training in September. They are Kayla Clark from Old Chatham, N.Y.; Jessica Hernandez of Bakersfield, Calf.; Caitlin Shea-Vantine of Bridgeport, Conn.; and Yesenia Feliciano from Perth Amboy, N.J.

The new cohort brings a wide range of skills and experiences to the program. Clark, who graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Mass. with a degree in sociology, worked as an environmental educator at multiple locations across the country and the globe. An avid researcher of marine animal life, Hernandez received her degree in biology from Pomona College. Shea-Vantine, who became interested in marine life after her experience at the Maritime Aquarium summer camp, located in Norwalk, Conn., earned a biology degree from Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt. Feliciano, who has a bachelor's degree in marine science from Stockton University, has experience with peer mentoring in an underwater robotics course.

“I am always surprised at the quality of the interns we get from around the country,” said Mark Risse, director of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant.  “It is a real win-win situation where we get some of the best and brightest students to work with our programs, and they get a one-year internship that will help them land the career of their choice.”

Established in 1987, the Georgia Sea Grant Marine Education Internship program has become a nationally recognized marine education initiative under the leadership of Maryellen Timmons, Georgia Sea Grant internship director, and Anne Lindsay, associate director for marine education. Almost 100 interns have participated in the program over the years, hailing from over 10 states, as well as from countries outside the U.S. 

The Georgia Sea Grant College Program
The Georgia Sea Grant College Program is a partnership that unites the resources of the federal government, the state of Georgia and universities across the state to create knowledge, tools, products and services that benefit the economy, the environment and the citizens of Georgia. It is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 33 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. Georgia Sea Grant, along with its partner, the University of Georgia Marine Extension, are units of the Office of Public Service and Outreach at the University of Georgia. The programs' mission is to improve public resource policy, encourage far-sighted economic and fisheries decisions, anticipate vulnerabilities to change and educate citizens to be wise stewards of the coastal environment. For more information, visit http://georgiaseagrant.uga.edu.

Writer: Lee Redding, leeredd@uga.edu

Contact: Maryellen Timmons, (912) 598-2353, mare@uga.edu