Investing in the Next Generation

Apr 3, 2024

As the United States makes historic federal investments in coastal resilience, training up the next generation of coastal professionals is a top priority. Fortunately, there are 30—soon to be 33—Reserves around the country where the next generation of coastal professionals is diving into careers focused on the protection, restoration, and management of our changing coasts. Case in point: the Padilla Bay Reserve’s new Washington Conservation Corps/AmeriCorps staff.

Meet Gabriel McInnis-Hernandez

Gabriel is an Americorps research assistant at the Reserve, after graduating from Western Washington University in 2023. He studied Marine and Coastal Science with minors in geology and biology. As an intern with Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, he led community work parties to restore riparian habitat and taught people about salmon biology and riparian ecology. He’s excited to learn about marine life and gain practical skills that will be useful for his future career. So far in his new role, he has trapped European green crabs, collected fish with a seine net, collected water samples by boat, and switched out the instruments used to measure water quality.

“My experiences at the Reserve have shown me that I am very passionate about protecting and preserving the natural environment,” he says. “This position has reinforced my desire for a career focused on environmental restoration and conservation.”

Liam Chamberlin

In Liam’s first month as an Americorps member on the education team, he assisted with green crab monitoring, led a group of students to the beach, taught a class about gastropods, and cared for the critters in the Reserve’s aquarium. His previous year in AmeriCorps was spent planting trees and restoring riparian habitat in Bellingham, Washington. He graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where he studied film and produced podcasts about the human-animal bond. He spends as much time as possible hiking, skiing, cooking, painting, and playing music. He is thrilled to be joining the team, and wants to spend the year sharing his passion for the natural world, learning, and growing as an educator.

“My experiences at the Reserve have directed me toward future ambitions in the world of education,” says Liam. “I’m hoping to use my knowledge and passion for environmental science to pursue a Master of Education degree in the next few years.”

Spencer Johnson

Spencer is the new AmeriCorps member on the stewardship team. He grew up in Olympia and has been interested in the environment for as long as he can remember, graduating from Western Washington University with an environmental science major. He spent two summers working with the Kachemak Bay Reserve; the second was spent doing fieldwork in peatland, intertidal, and nearshore habitats. For the last two years, he served with the Washington Conservation Corps working on restoration and recreation projects, including green crab trapping with the Northwest Straits Commission and riparian restoration with Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group. In his first month on the job, he helped to set and check green crab traps, collected monthly data on invasive Batillaria snails, and surveyed invertebrates on dried oyster shells for a project monitoring Olympia oyster recruitment. He enjoys the solutions-oriented nature of restoration work, and loves being out in the field and seeing the immediate impacts of his work. He’s excited to continue maintaining, restoring, and learning about the Padilla Bay ecosystem.

“Working at the Reserve has affirmed my interest in ecosystem stewardship,” he says. “I like how the Reserve System integrates place-based research, stewardship, and public outreach, and would love to continue working in that type of setting as I move forward in my career.”

Spencer at the Reserve’s soon-to-be restoration site by Samish Island.

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ReservesLake Superior, WisconsinInvesting in the Next Generation