Three recent college graduates have been awarded one-year marine education fellowships with University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. Based at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium on Skidaway Island, the fellowship provides early career professionals with experience in environmental education, animal husbandry and coastal extension.  

Throughout the year, the fellows will teach field, lab and lecture classes that are offered to visiting school groups. They will work behind the scenes at the aquarium and collaborate with Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant staff to incorporate information about community-based research and extension projects into educational programming.  

The fellows will also participate in professional development opportunities and build a network of environmental educators, marine researchers and conservationists working in coastal Georgia.  

Meet the 2023-2024 fellows:  

Virginia Hawkins is from Pinetops, North Carolina. She graduated with a bachelor’s in environmental science from Western Carolina University. Prior to the fellowship, Hawkins worked as an assistant park ranger on the coast of North Carolina and served in AmeriCorps in coastal Maine. Hawkins will be collaborating with Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s extension specialists during her fellowship, finding ways to enhance community programming and sharing the impact of extension work with Georgia’s coastal communities.



Huxleyann Huefner is from Salt Lake City, Utah. She graduated from Scripps College, one of the Claremont Colleges in California, with a degree in biology. In college, Huefner participated in a study abroad program with Sea Education Association, where she engaged in research on humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins, and deep-sea coral. This experience also provided opportunities to interact with students, which she really enjoyed and is what drew her to the marine education fellowship. Heufner will be teaching marine science and coastal ecology classes at the aquarium and participating in outreach events along the coast. 


Lindsey Thomas is from Savannah, Georgia. She attended Georgia Southern University and graduated with a degree in marine biology and a minor in psychology. Before becoming a fellow, Thomas served as a volunteer at the UGA Aquarium for two years and also interned with Savannah Wildlife Rescue Center. Her passion for marine animals and the ocean is what drew her to this fellowship. She will be gaining skills in animal husbandry at the aquarium as well as educating visitors about Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s efforts to improve the health of the coast.