Goodbye Grad School, Hello Fellowship!

“Your off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so…get on your way!” – Dr. Seuss. Through my fellowship, I’ve found my mountain and it’s called Sacramento (even though ironically I’m in the northern region of the Central Valley).

sturgeon & shellfish

Top: Large sturgeon fish at Sterling Caviar farm facility. Sacramento is the caviar capitol of the world! Bottom Left Tomales Bay Oyster Co. mudflat:, white “sticks” are where the oyster bags are attached. Bottom Middle: Manila Clams and Pacific Oysters (far back in red bags). Bottom Right: Hog Island Oyster sign for their Hog Shack.

When I first moved here to start my fellowship with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Aquaculture Program, I had no idea what awaited me. The first week was a flurry of meetings, new faces, and new subject matter for a biological oceanographer in an aquaculture world. I had to become versed in the kinds of aquaculture conducted in California, the aquaculture initiatives in place, and related legal documents like EIR’s (Environmental Impact Reports) along with the associated CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) requirements.

While it has been a bit of a steep learning curve, I’ve embraced the challenge and have already gained an immense amount of knowledge regarding aquaculture, related regulations, and the permitting process. While part of that was “behind the desk” type learning, the “real life” learning was a result of attending shellfish grower’s conferences and visiting shellfish and fish farms alike. As someone who’s never seen “aquaculture” in action before, it was very exciting!

Related Opportunities

CA Sea Grant fellows have the opportunity to work with and contribute to the Thank You Ocean Campaign (NOAA). Their mission is to increase ocean awareness by promoting everyday actions that protect the ocean via their website, social media and outreach events. So far I’ve helped update website content, posted content to their twitter and Facebook pages, and helped their outreach efforts.

My hands down favorite experience was working the Thank You Ocean table at the State Fair Beach Buddy Adventures exhibit. For a couple weekends, I was a “spokes-mermaid” for the booth and loved teaching kids about ocean friendly everyday actions they could implement. It did help that I was allowed to make and wear a costume to purposefully resemble a certain iconic red headed mermaid 🙂 Teaching and outreach are passions of mine, so I’m extremely pleased to have found a way to incorporate those into my fellowship. (P.S. I made the blue skirt!)


Loved it when kids would say “Look its Ariel!” or wave back when I waved at them. One even asked “Can I visit your castle?” and I said “I’d even love to visit my castle”. Another girl (about 5yrs old) said she loved my hairstyle (her words) and pointed out that I have alot of freckles, lol. Kids are so cute!

Outdoor Activities

Even though I’ve otherwise lived my entire life within one mile of the ocean (confirmed via Google Earth), I’ve embraced what the state capitol has to offer. And as you know, I’ve been taking full advantage of what the state capitol has to offer fitness wise: REI Outdoor School, sprint triathlons in a lake (not the ocean), stand up paddle boarding (SUP) and SUP yoga!


It feels so refreshing to finally do all the things I didn’t have the time, money or energy to do while in school. I know you all don’t really know what grad school was like for me (other than the fun things I posted like tours and puppet shows) since I really haven’t and likely won’t blog about the emotional side of my thesis journey. It was to say the least, tumultuous.  I can tell you all that I am glad I successfully completed a thesis that allowed me the opportunity to gain a very current and useful skill to the modern world (coding in MATLAB), successfully defended my thesis, and successfully completed all the requirements to earn my Masters in Marine Science.  And now, here I am now moving on to the wonderful things that await me in the world 🙂

My CDFW supervisor has encouraged me to take advantage of all the opportunities that this fellowship has to offer, so that I get the most out of my time here both at our agency and in Sacramento. I am truly grateful for his support because as a whole, I’ve been given the chance to meet all kinds of people, to travel to new places and to expand my life experiences. I’m a mermaid who’s found her mountain and I know that I’ll encounter even more wonderful things on the way to its peak.


11 thoughts on “Goodbye Grad School, Hello Fellowship!

  1. Fascinating subject. When I was in college in the 80’s a classmate of mine was talking about aquaculture in Maine,
    A good blog topic for all of us would be – what are the things that all of can do to protect the oceans? I bet a few are very simple or could be done with a modest amount of effort.
    When they were searching for that Malaysian flight that disapeared and all they kept finding was trash in the ocean – that should have been a wake up call to people. But it wasn’t. No one seems to link tossing a styrofoam cup out the window of their car with trash islands and plastic pieces showing up in the fish on their table.
    Just yesterday I saw a Realtor kick some Dunkin cups into the street in front of a house she was taking photos of. Class act I thought, along with a few choice 4 letter words!
    Cheers – Andy

    • I’ll make my next post all about Thank You Ocean, thanks for the suggestion! One of the booths at the Beach Buddy Exhibit where I table shows a stream with “litter” in it and brings the very idea you highlighted home. Whether you throw it into the street etc… usually finds its way to a storm drain or river and then out to the ocean it goes.

      • Awesome. I don’t think most people think about it, the ocean is the ultimate trash dump. So much stuff ands up out there.
        As plastic breaks into smaller pieces fish eat it and ultimately we eat it.
        I read somewhere about plastic micro particles used in cosmetics showing up in rivers.
        Talk about a circualr economy! We end up eating our own trash.

  2. Ok, question for you – I’m looking into an event management job for an organization whose mission it is to protect and restore their area bay. They asked me to come up with an outdoor, athletic fundraising event…any thoughts for something that would be a good fit for them?? (I immediately thought of you!) They already do a swim and a watershed bike ride…

    • A cool local fundraising event, is Eppie’s Great Race here in Sac. Proceeds from this race go to Theraputic Recreation Services for adults with developmental disabilities. They do a non-traditional triathlon-type event each year: Run, bike, kayak. Check out this video that talks all about the event: I’m sure you could do something similar, but have funds go toward the bay’s restoration cause 🙂 Maybe instead of kayaking, do SUP, bike, run? Or run, bike, SUP?

      • Haha, you’re right along the lines of what I was thinking! I think I’m going to suggest a SUP race (or SUP/run dualthon), my only concern is there are already A LOT of SUP races around the Cape! Oh well, can’t hurt to suggest it, right??

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