I hope each of you enjoyed the holidays and are ready for a prosperous 2018. Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant faculty and staff from around the state recently gathered on Skidaway Island for our annual meeting. This is a time for us to share 2017 accomplishments and successes, participate in professional development trainings, and set new goals in research, outreach and education to accomplish this year. I always come away from these meetings inspired and proud of the expertise and dedication of our faculty and staff.

Speaking of staffing, we have several updates to share. Lindsey Parker, captain of the R/V Georgia Bulldog, retired after more than 36 years of service to UGA. I want to take this opportunity to publically thank him for his service to the state, especially the fishing communities of Georgia. Additionally, Mary Sweeny Reeves, marine educator at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium, retired in April after 24 years with UGA. Her warm personality and infectious love for birding will be missed. Last, but certainly not least, Madeleine Russell, natural hazards specialist, and Cheryl Summers, Sea Grant fiscal officer, have moved on to new positions. We wish them luck in their future endeavors.

A couple of new faces we’d like to welcome to Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant include Kate Doyle and Katie Higgins. Doyle was hired in July as a part-time boat captain. She has been a wonderful new asset to the Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant team. Higgins will be joining our faculty on Feb. 1 as a marine educator and volunteer coordinator based at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium. Please join me in welcoming these new folks.

I want to thank everyone for your support of this year’s Oyster Roast for a Reason fundraising event that took place Dec. 2. The event raised more than $50,000, which will be used to support the Shellfish Research Lab’s efforts to grow oyster aquaculture in Georgia. I appreciate everyone who helped make the event a success.

I look forward to working with each of you in the coming year and, as always, please feel free to share your comments, concerns or ideas with me!

Thank you,

Mark Risse, Director of Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant