Savanna grew up on a small farm in central Virginia and discovered her interest in marine ecology during family vacations to small fishing towns along the Chesapeake Bay. After earning her B.S. in Biology from the University of Virginia, Savanna split her time between Gainesville, FL and Little Cayman Island to earn her M.S. in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences through the University of Florida.
Her M.S. research focused on interactions between seagrasses and calcifying algae but she was also involved in youth education and public outreach on the island. While in Little Cayman, Savanna completed her Divemaster certification and co-organized an island-wide effort to remove invasive lionfish from local coral reefs. After completing her M.S., Savanna moved back to Gainesville full-time to continue into a Ph.D. program at the University of Florida.
She did her dissertation work in the beautiful seagrass meadows of the southern Nature Coast where she investigated the morphology, resilience, invertebrate community composition, and carbon storage of seagrass meadows growing under different rates of nutrient input. Savanna began serving the Nature Coast as a Regional Specialized Agent with Sea Grant and UF/IFAS Extension in February 2016 and graduated with her doctorate in April 2016. She lives in Cedar Key and is stationed full time at the Nature Coast Biological Station.
Savanna’s extension program is as diverse as the habitats and wildlife that inhabit the Nature Coast. See below for a current list of her programs and be sure to follow her blog (Inside Nature Coast) and the NCBS Facebook to keep up with the great research and extension at NCBS. Get in touch with Savanna (email@example.com) if you want additional information or would like to get involved!
Sustainable Coastal Recreation
- Be Seagrass Safe: Seagrass propeller scarring awareness campaign
- Sustainable Angling Practices:
- Bird-friendly fishing and boating: learn how you can do your part to reduce disturbance and injury of birds.
- Catch and Release: learn how to properly handle fish to increase their survival rates after release – because a fish is too valuable to catch only once!
- Cedar Key Bird Rescue Program: local volunteer effort to respond to fishing-related bird injuries.
Enhancing and Restoring Marine Ecosystems:
- Living Shorelines:
- Informing coastal homeowners about softer options for erosion control
- Opportunities for volunteers to get involved in coastal enhancement
- Reducing Marine Debris:
- Monofilament bins: Increasing access to monofilament recycling throughout the Nature Coast (bins added in Yankeetown, Steinhatchee, Jena, and Econfina in 2016)
- Marine Cleanups: Cleanup events such as the annual International Coastal Cleanup help reduce plastic and other debris in Nature Coast waterways
- Habitat Restoration:
- Big plans for oyster and seagrass restoration are underway in the Nature Coast – opportunities to get involved with construction or monitoring of projects coming soon!
Coastal Environmental Literacy and Stewardship:
- Florida Master Naturalist Program: courses on Coastal Systems and other topics coming in 2017
- Citizen Science: Involvement in the study of natural systems is associated with increased stewardship and conservation of resources. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in getting involved.
- Horseshoe Crab Nesting Surveys: This program takes place during full and new moons in the spring and fall. Training for new volunteers is available before each sampling round, all equipment is provided.
- Nature Coast Water Watch/Coastal LAKEWATCH: Citizen water quality monitoring sites coming to an estuary near you! Coastal water quality affects everyone in the Nature Coast because our economies are dependent on high quality natural resources. Training and equipment are provided to volunteers at no charge
- Public talks and festivals: Interested in hearing about the latest science in the Nature Coast, sustainable coastal living, or other coastal topics? Savanna and other NCBS staff regularly give presentations to community groups and appear at festivals throughout the Nature Coast – get in touch to schedule a talk for your group. Or, stop by our booth at events such as the Cedar Key Arts and Seafood Festivals, the Steinhatchee Fiddler Crab Festival, National Estuaries Day, and similar events.
- Marine Ecology Event: Each year, the statewide Marine Ecology Event challenges 4-Hers to show off their knowledge about marine species. The Nature Coast has historically had low participation in this event despite our wonderful marine resources. Mock events are planned for Fall 2017 in the Nature Coast region to help mentor clubs and give them experience prior to the statewide event. Details to follow!