The Coral Program's 2022 Ernest F. Hollings Scholar: Madison Gard
In June, the Coral Reef Conservation Program welcomed a new Ernest F. Hollings undergraduate intern, Madison Gard. Madison is a double-major at Western Washington University (Bellingham, WA) studying environmental science with a marine emphasis and Spanish. Her interest in fisheries and ecosystem-based management was sparked by her work in the Marine Mammal Ecology Lab at her university where she is a research assistant working on a variety of projects. Madison was excited to increase her knowledge of coral reef ecology, natural resource management, and restoration strategies through her Hollings experience. Madison was mentored by Tauna Rankin, NOAA's Coral Program Analyst & Marine Habitat Resource Specialist, who focuses on fisheries management and sustainability in U.S. coral reef jurisdictions. The Hollings Scholarship Program provides successful undergraduate applicants with awards that include academic assistance for two years of full-time study and a 10-week, full-time paid internship at a NOAA facility during the summer. The internship between the first and second years of the award provides the scholars with hands-on, practical experience in NOAA-related science, research, technology, policy, management, and education activities.
Throughout the summer, Madison focused on translating existing evidence on the synergistic relationships of coral reef conservation and sustainable fisheries into communications products for managers and the public. She compiled a library of the latest science regarding the linkages between fisheries and coral reef conservation for managers and researchers to cite in management plans, grant proposals and provide rationale for management decisions.
Madison also synthesized the information gathered from her interviews with coral experts and literature reviews to author two infographics for public science communication. The infographics showcase four of the key relationships between managed fishery populations and their coral reef habitats, using analogies to show how people care for their homes and are tailored to represent species from the Atlantic and Pacific basins in order to resonate more closely with locals from the regions. NOAA is sharing these infographics with local managers to use online and at public meetings to explain the importance of managing healthy reefs to sustain fisheries and vice versa.
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.