My name is Delaney Caslow, and I am a third-year student at the University of Georgia majoring in fisheries and wildlife and minoring in anthropology. I first heard about UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant through UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. I decided to apply for the program’s coastal resilience internship because I am interested in the connections between human populations and our natural resources. During my internship, I had the pleasure of working with Jill Gambill, Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s coastal resilience specialist, and helping out with the program’s newly formed JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) Committee.

Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant Director Mark Risse formed the JEDI Committee in 2020 and tasked the members with conducting research and developing recommendations that could advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. The committee’s first objective was to draft a report that attempted to clearly identify and explain how and why JEDI is necessary and important.

One of the main components I contributed to the report was gathering demographic data. I used several online sources including U.S. Census Bureau data, Georgia Department of Education statistics and others to compile data on the 11 coastal counties of Georgia as well as some key cities and islands. It was really interesting to see different trends that occurred along the coast. A few key conclusions we pulled from the data include:

  • Liberty County has the most racial diversity with almost 13% of people speaking a language other than English at home.
  • Over 50% of K-12 students in 8 of the 11 coastal counties receive free and reduced lunches, with McIntosh County being the highest at 85.46%.
  • In Brantley County, 38.5% of the households do not have broadband internet subscriptions.
  • Effingham County and Bryan County have the second and third highest median incomes, highest proportions of white residents and lowest percentages of students receiving free and reduced lunches.

I did not know a lot about the coastal Georgia before helping with this project, so it was extremely eye opening to find out how diverse our coast is. In addition to gathering data, I attended lots of Zoom meetings with committees, subcommittees, co-chairs and the UGA Office of Institutional Diversity. It was quite remarkable to see what started out as a bunch of different ideas and documents turn into a comprehensive written report that explains the importance of JEDI for this organization.

As I reflect back on this experience, I see what a big impact this has had on my knowledge of JEDI personally as well as how these concepts apply to the workplace. Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s research, education and extension programs work closely with coastal communities to address issues and find solutions. Understanding the diversity of these communities is critical to meeting their needs, which is why gathering this data was so important. Overall, this was an experience I am so proud to have, and I am so thankful to Jill Gambill and the entire JEDI committee.