Katie Higgins is UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s new marine educator and volunteer coordinator. In her dual role, she will provide hands-on experiential learning programs for students and grow Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s volunteer program. Higgins will be based on Skidaway Island at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium.
“I enjoy teaching and interacting with people who are motivated and engaged with Georgia’s coastal ecosystem and the organisms that rely on them,” said Higgins. “Everyone at Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant whether staff, faculty or volunteer, is energetic and knowledgeable. My natural inclination towards wonder and discovery help me feel right at home here.”
Higgins serves on the board for the Georgia Association of Marine Educators and is a certified facilitator for the nationally recognized environmental education curricula Projects Wet, Wild and Learning Tree. As a marine educator, she will introduce students to Georgia’s diverse coastal ecosystems through outdoor exploration and lab studies.
When she’s not teaching, Higgins will work with volunteers that participate in programs like the Phytoplankton Monitoring Network, which involves monitoring local waters once a week for marine phytoplankton and harmful algal blooms. She will also develop a streamlined process for recruiting and training volunteers to help out with activities at the aquarium.
“I hope to grow the program in numbers, opportunities, and demographic diversity. I also hope to partner with other like-minded facilities, like UGA’s Coastal Botanical Garden, Telfair Museums and Oatland Island Wildlife Center, to understand how volunteers assist with their programming and find ways of creating unique and lasting collaborations,” said Higgins.
Before settling in Georgia, Higgins spent time overseas in Spain, teaching English as a second language as well as serving as an environmental education board member for a local chapter of BirdLife International. Prior to joining the Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant team, Higgins served as the education coordinator for the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island. Higgins has an undergraduate degree in biology with an emphasis in vertebrate zoology from Portland State University and a master’s degree in zoology from Miami University of Ohio.