Three college graduates will work with state, federal and non-governmental agencies over the next year as part of the Georgia Sea Grant State Fellowship. The fellowship places early career professionals in host offices where they gain hands-on experience in resource management, outreach, planning and policy implementation.

“This is the fourth year of offering this fellowship, and we are already seeing past fellows secure permanent positions with some of our partners,” said Mark Risse, director of Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. “It’s great to see a growing network of young professionals who can offer a multidisciplinary approach to solving Georgia’s coastal issues.”

The 2022-2023 fellows will work with the following partners: Georgia Audubon, NOAA Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary and Jekyll Island Authority.

Michael Brennan has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Georgia Southern University. As a master’s student at Georgia Southern, he is studying how land management in the Ocala National Forest is impacting snakes, lizards and tortoises as well as the indirect impacts of land management on lizard endoparasites. Brennan’s fellowship with Jekyll Island Authority will involve tracking and monitoring eastern diamondback rattlesnake populations on the island. Brennan is excited to support Eastern diamondback rattlesnake conservation efforts while gaining new skills in education and outreach.

“I will gain valuable experience working with state agencies and collaborating with NGOs in the Southeast on snake conservation. This fellowship is a great opportunity to diversify my research experience and field technician skills,” Brennan said.

Lauren Bowman Clontz has a bachelor’s degree in wildlife conservation from Virginia Tech and a master’s degree in conservation leadership from Colorado State University, which prepares leaders to address conservation issues at local, regional and national levels. As part of her fellowship with Georgia Audubon, she will help establish and grow programs along the coast that focus on bird collision reduction initiatives, native plants and community science projects. Clontz looks forward to advancing her knowledge in the conservation field in meaningful ways by structuring her career through an interdisciplinary lens.

“The fellowship stood out to me because I am inspired by the emphasis of a collaborative, multi-faceted approach to conservation. I am excited for the opportunity to work closely with conservation professionals and build my professional portfolio,” Clontz said.

Madison Monroe received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in ecology from UGA. Her research focused on spatial and temporal patterns of microplastic concentrations from wastewater treatment plants. As part of her fellowship, she will be working with Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, assisting with ongoing monitoring and science projects at the reef, contributing to reporting efforts that inform the sanctuary’s management plan, and supporting education events at the organization’s new visitor center in downtown Savannah. Monroe looks forward to using this experience to help jump start her career in environmental conservation.

“This fellowship will help bolster my understanding of aquatic sciences as a multidisciplinary field; it will help me engage with coastal scientists to understand the diverse work going on at the coast,” Monroe said.