December 2020
A Note from Special Guest Dr. Scott Angle
By J. Scott Angle, Vice President of UF/IFAS, @IFAS_VP

When I felt the thrill of that first tug on the line, the red snapper wasn’t the only thing that was hooked. I was, too.

Reeling in that fish last month made management of the red snapper fishery personal. It created an empathy with those who make their living on the waters off Destin. Jon Dain had just worked his magic again.

There are a lot of reasons NRLI works, but Jon and his staff – Joy Hazell, Jocelyn Peskin and Wendy-Lin Bartels—are chief among them as the curators of conditions for cultivating leaders. First, they brought us to a remote location to remove distractions. They selected a diverse cohort of Fellows who can challenge each other’s thinking. They presented conflict management skills in compelling ways. They assembled stakeholders that brought fisheries management to life. Don’t anyone tell me if Jon set that snapper on my hook, too.

I said it at the session, but it bears repeating: I don’t believe people are born leaders. They become leaders the way they become anything else—through education and experience. Session 2 in Destin offered a lot of both.

Another reason NRLI works is you, Class XX. Even during what was supposed to be downtime, the meals and those spaces in between scheduled events, you educated me and shared your experience, adding to my own accumulation of both.

In my experience, the best thinking comes from synthesizing diverse points of view. I didn’t have to wait for the stakeholders panel to experience this.

Over dinner I learned from Darlene Velez how Floridians depend on ground water for their potable supply, while those in other regions more often rely on surface water. And I was lucky to be in her debrief group to hear her discuss how even if you can’t get a stakeholder what he or she wants, you may still be able to get buy-in to a process if you can listen and figure out a stakeholder’s motivations and then engage him or her in meaningful dialogue. 

I was delighted by the chance to spend time with a new UF/IFAS faculty member, Mysha Clarke, who’s a walking synthesis of diverse perspectives. How else do you become an expert in both invasive species and urban forestry and combine them into the study of invasive species in urban forests?

Clarke’s background includes that diverse experience that will serve her well as she emerges as a leader—born in Jamaica, Ph.D. from a land-grant in Indiana, post-doc in Philly, study abroad in Ecuador, academic focus in Spanish, economics, and natural resource social science. 

As I mentioned to the group during the session, I don’t believe leaders are born, they are cultivated. I am impressed with the cultivation of a cohort of leaders happening in NRLI. I am impressed, too, with the commitment of the Fellows to self-improvement so that they can make Florida a better place.

Getting to know some of you inspires me with hope and even confidence that we will have some of our most skilled and well-intentioned people at the table to address our thorniest natural resources challenges.

Thank you for having Kay and me with you in Destin. I enjoyed being around such a public-spirited group of people. I work for the people of Florida, and I found kindred spirits among the fellows of NRLI Class XX.

Best of luck in the remaining sessions. See you at graduation.

(photo below, from left to right: Scott Angle, Mysha Clarke, Darlene Velez)
8-Month Flagship Program | Session 2
The Art of Conflict Management
By Nicole Casuso & Susana Hervas, NRLI Class XX Fellows

Only 30 days passed since we concluded our whirlwind introduction to a group of strangers at the Gainesville Garden Club and crash-course in what we could expect from being part of the NRLI Class XX these next 8 months. In the midst of a pandemic and growing accustomed to society’s new sense of normal, the mixture of excitement and anxiety seemed almost palpable. With eager minds and maybe tired bodies, we found ourselves gathering together again in Destin. Many of us had not been to this area of Florida, nor have significant prior experience with Gulf Red Snapper fisheries management. 

We often focus on the substantive issues or “what” the problem is but often overlook “why” the problem persists. We first try to paint conflict using logic and reason as the scientific people we are. We are trained to look at conflict management through a very objective lens and rely on structured frameworks to better understand not only how conflicts arise but also how we can overcome them. Like a great pointillist work, it is difficult to grasp the entire picture if we spend too much time looking closely at individual dots upon a vast canvas. The triangle of needs and circle of the roots of conflict are two of the illustrative methods we explored during Session 2. 
Alumni Map
NRLI Alumni Populate a New Interactive Online Mapping Tool

Seven years ago, UF/IFAS Sea Grant agent Libby Carnahan wondered how she could identify alumni of interest beyond her cohort. She pointed out the value of having access to the whole alumni network, and more specifically, to those professionals within her geographic region.

We are excited to announce a new interactive mapping tool that displays all alumni spatially online and offers ways to filter and make personal contacts. The broad goal of the website is to enable our 350+ NRLI alumni to be able “find” one another, reach out to specific individuals, and share information. You can click on the image above to see this new resource.

Currently, the site is searchable by class, organization, and county. The map now serves the Project Team as we plan sessions and invite alumni located nearby. Over half of our alumni have updated their profiles already with photos, bios and other professional details. Thank you all for participating! Now is the time to join this effort if you aren’t already included. Please let us know when (and how) this tool becomes useful to you. 

We welcome requests and suggestions for improvements. Send all observations and ideas to Wendy-Lin
DEP Online Instructor Training
The NRLI Project Team was thrilled to partner once again with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) - this time for online instructor training. Recognizing the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, DEP is transitioning to online learning and is getting ahead of the curve with intensive staff training. In September and December, we worked with two groups (Ranger Academy instructors as well as other instructors and facilitators) on concepts, skills. and tools required for effective, participatory online trainings and meetings. 
2020-2021 Scholarship Recipients (part 2)
Local Government Scholarship

Brandon Smith
Environmental Specialist, Brevard County Natural Resources Management Department

Brandon Smith is an Environmental Specialist with Brevard County’s Save Our Indian River Lagoon Plan. There he manages projects and public outreach on a nearly half a billion-dollar estuary restoration plan. Prior to joining Brevard County Natural Resources he served as an environmental educator with Brevard County Parks and Recreation for 17 years, running a marine science center in Rocklege. Brandon also serves as the Vice President of the Friends of the Carr Refuge and as a board member and former president of the Space Coast Science Education Alliance. He previously severed on the boards of the Florida Marine Science Educators Association (FMSEA) and Sea Turtle Preservation Society for nine years each. Additionally, he was invited to take on the role of Regional Leader of Florida for the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation, where he served for four years.

Brandon has received many awards and recognition for his environmental education and conservation work including the Paul Kroegel Award for Outstanding Service to the Indian River Lagoon by a Government Employee, Charlie Corbeil Conservation Award, KBB Education Award, KBB Sustainability Award, FMSEA Service Award, Florida Master Naturalist Instructor Achievement Award, and Lead Brevard 4 Under 40 Finalist.
Bruce Delaney Scholarship

Allyson Webb
Senior Resource Manager, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Florida Audubon

Allyson Webb is the Senior Resource Manager for Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and Panther Island where she oversees all land management activities on the Sanctuary property. Panther Island is mitigated land that is currently being managed by Allyson in order to maintain the restoration success criteria established by the mitigation permit.

Allyson attended Texas A&M University in her home state where she received a BA in Biology and Minor in Chemistry. After college, she joined the Peace Corps and was stationed in Haiti for two years. Upon returning to the US, Allyson moved to Estero, FL. Looking to learn more and gain experience in the environmental field, she became a resource management volunteer at Corkscrew in June of 2004. Just three short years later, Allyson joined the full-time staff as Resource Manager for Corkscrew’s Panther Island Mitigation Bank. Allyson is the National Audubon Society Representative for the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network and the Florida Bat Working Group, and a Member of Southwest Florida CISMA (Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas).
Class XX Fellows & Schedule
Alicia Betancourt Monroe County Extension Director, UF/IFAS Extension
Buck Carpenter Owner/Operator, Southern Pioneer Farms, LLC
Nicole Casuso Biological Scientist IV, Division of Plant Industry, FDACS
Mysha Clarke Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, UF
Jason Davison Director of Field Services, Florida Farm Bureau Federation
Jorge Guevara Forest Hydrologist, U.S. Forest Service
Madeline Hart Environmental Consultant, FDACS
Susana Hervas Postdoctoral Research Associate, UF
Sandra Oxenrider Land Resource Specialist, St Johns River Water Management District
Dawn Ritter Natural Resource Manager, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners
Michael Simmons Natural Resource Specialist, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Brandon Smith Environmental Specialist, Brevard County Natural Resources Mgmt Dept
Darlene Velez Water Resources Chief, Suwannee River Water Management District
Vincent Vitale Conservation Education Specialist, White Oak Conservation Foundation
Allyson Webb Senior Resource Manager, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Florida Audubon
Yilin Zhuang Regional Specialized Agent, Water Resources, UF/IFAS Extension