For He’s (and She’s) a Jolly Good Fellow

The NOAA Coastal Management Fellowship Program is celebrating its 20th birthday.  

For the past 20 years, the Coastal Management Fellowship Program has been matching postgraduate students with coastal zone management programs. The fellows work on two-year projects that the programs might not otherwise have had the resources to accomplish. For more than half of that time I have been coordinating this fellowship program, and have seen first-hand the positive impact on both the coastal programs and the fellows that have participated. I have seen fellows’ projects get noticed by the White House. I have seen fellows go on to become CEOs of national organizations, managers of National Estuarine Research Reserves, and leaders within NOAA. I have seen fellows start their own businesses with the sole mission of taking their fellowship project to other state coastal programs. Pretty cool stuff. I have also seen coastal programs truly be able to better address critical issues they are facing like climate change and community resilience–all with the help of a fellow.

Since its inception in 1996, the program has placed 106 post graduate students from 42 different universities with 26 state and territory coastal zone management programs. This graphic gives a snapshot of the program today.

Infographic - Fellowship - 2016

Most of our fellows would agree that the fellowship program is one of the best ways to get into the field of coastal management and secure a job. The program has a reputation of placing only the best and brightest as fellows, and of producing seasoned coastal management professionals after the fellowship is complete. In fact, almost all fellows stay in the coastal management field immediately following their fellowship, and many continue to work at the state level. In the most recent class of fellows to finish the program, every fellow continued working in state-level coastal management.  


Our 2013-2015 fellows, from left to right: New Hampshire fellow Kirsten Howard is now a coastal resilience specialist with the New Hampshire Coastal Program. New York fellow Liz Podowski is now a resiliency specialist with the New York Coastal Program. California Coastal Commission fellow Kelsey Ducklow is now that organization’s local coastal program grant coordinator and climate change analyst. Oregon fellow Meg Gardner is the environmental program coordinator with the Oregon State Marine Board. Maine fellow Emily Norton is now a senior planner with the Maine Coastal Program. Massachusetts fellow Margot Mansfield is now a coastal hazards analyst with the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management.

If you are a state or territory coastal program interested in getting a fellow of your own, proposals are due in mid October of each year. Our website has the details of what should be included in the proposal and how the selection process works. 

If you are a postgraduate student interested in applying to the program, see eligibility and applications requirements here. Each year, applications are due to your local Sea Grant program in mid to late January. If you are looking for a career in coastal management, check it out! This video, told from a fellow’s perspective, might be just what you need to be convinced.

In the mean time, keep an eye out for blog posts throughout the year to learn about former fellows and what they’re doing now, and how fellowship projects have had an impact on coastal management.

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