For more than 40 years, the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, administered by NOAA’s National Sea Grant College Program, has provided graduate and professional school students with experience in host offices throughout the executive and legislative branches of government. During the yearlong program, fellows learn firsthand about ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resource management and policy. The Coral Reef Conservation Program has hosted many Knauss fellows over the years, and this year is no different.
At the end of this month, we must say “farewell” to our 2020 Knauss fellow Leanne Poussard. Leanne was sponsored by Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant and holds a master’s degree in coastal sciences from the University of Southern Mississippi. While her fellowship year has been anything but normal, Leanne has been a fantastic asset to the program. Leanne has been a key member of the steering committee for the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, which leads U.S. efforts to preserve and protect coral reef resources and includes 13 federal agencies; seven U.S. states, territories, and commonwealths; and three freely associated states. She also supported the development of the programmatic environmental impact statement, which will streamline environmental compliance for the program. Finally, Leanne worked with communications staff on web stories and on our popular Facebook page and Twitter feed.
“Working with the Coral Reef Conservation Program and the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force has allowed me to learn about the intricacies of marine science policy development, and how to work effectively with partners across agencies, organizations, and in states and territories to best contribute to long-term coral conservation and climate change mitigation goals,” says Leanne.
One of Leanne’s final duties was to help recruit the next fellow. Leanne is leaving rather big shoes to fill, and Kayelyn Simmons is definitely up to the task. Kayelyn is sponsored by North Carolina Sea Grant and is a current doctoral student in marine science at North Carolina State University. She will continue Leanne’s work with the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force and other tasks of interest.
“I am thrilled to be selected as the Knauss fellow this year!” says Kayelyn. “I am passionate about coral reefs, their role in our everyday lives, and how they bring coastal communities together. The Coral Reef Conservation Program will be the perfect platform for me to grow and diversify my science toolbox in stakeholder collaborations, ecosystem-based management strategies, and policy making processes that promote resiliency and conserve our nation's coral reefs.”
We look forward to working with Kayelyn this year, and to seeing how far Leanne goes in her career!
The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program was established in 2000 by the Coral Reef Conservation Act. Headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, the program is part of NOAA's Office for Coastal Management.