A welcome message to SARP Steering Committee, Staff, and Partners from SARP State Co-chair:
Please join me in welcoming Dr. Jessica Graham into her new role as Coordinator of the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP). Jessica joins SARP after serving as a Regional Biologist for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Wildlife Legacy Initiative, a program focused on developing regional partnerships to implement local conservation actions that address statewide conservation priorities identified in Florida’s State Wildlife Action Plan. As a Regional Biologist, Jessica has developed effective partnerships and provided technical guidance, planning and financial assistance, and coordination for a variety of projects focused on restoring, protecting, and enhancing freshwater and estuarine habitats in northwest Florida.
Many of you are likely familiar with Jessica’s lead role in coordinating habitat restoration efforts in the Chipola River watershed to benefit Shoal Bass, Gulf Striped Bass and imperiled freshwater mussels (among other species); work that has been supported by SARP’s Native Black Bass Initiative and that was recently highlighted on the National Fish Habitat Partnership’s “Waters to Watch” list. Through these roles, Jessica has demonstrated her ability to build and maintain effective conservation partnerships among local, state and federal partners; secure and leverage grant funding and technical resources for habitat restoration projects; manage project budgets; and effectively communicate project activities/outcomes to garner awareness and broad-based support for fish habitat conservation.
Jessica previously coordinated components of an international coral reef monitoring program supported through the Global Environmental Facility, an international partnership focused on cooperation toward addressing a variety of global conservation issues including biodiversity conservation, climate change, international waters, and land degradation. Jessica developed standard protocols for use by international partners in implementing coral reef monitoring, led and coordinated monitoring at selected sites, developed and instituted a data management framework for use by the program, and hosted international workshops to ensure cooperation and coordination among partners. Jessica also has previous experience in conducting trout stream and forest surveys, and has experience using GPS and GIS techniques to assess land conservation and habitat restoration needs/priorities. Jessica has a B.S. in Marine Biology and a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences, both from the Florida Institute of Technology.
Jessica’s first day as SARP Coordinator will be March 16th and she will be in attendance at the Spring 2015 SARP Steering Committee Meeting in Hunt, TX. Jessica and her family reside in Panama City, FL. Thanks to Allan Brown and Catherine Phillips, USFWS has arranged office space for Jessica at the USFWS Panama City Field Office.
I want to recognize and offer my sincere appreciation to John Biagi, Allan Brown, Bob Curry, Larry Pugh and Scott Robinson for their outstanding service on our interview and selection panel. I also want to recognize Angelyn Mewborn for her significant contributions in providing administrative/logistical support to the panel and recognize Joey Slaughter (SARP Steering Committee, SDAFS 2015 Host Committee Chair) for arranging meeting space that allowed us to conduct the interviews in conjunction with the SDAFS Meeting in Savannah.
I look forward to seeing many of you at the Spring 2015 SARP Steering Committee Meeting (May 11-15, Hunt, TX). If I don’t talk with you before then, I wish you safe travels.
State Co-Chair, Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership
Chief of Habitat Conservation
Inland Fisheries Division
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
Office: (512) 389-4744
Cell: (512) 739-4669