As Director of Conservation, I want to thank and welcome you to this new venue for communication between the Jekyll Island Authority Conservation Program and our community of visitors, partners, residents and stakeholders. I will keep this page updated regularly with news, information, and multimedia elements related to our progress on the Jekyll Island Conservation Plan. Additionally, I will offer ways for you to be involved in the process and help in our conservation efforts.
Before we talk conservation, let’s talk Ben Carswell. I began my position with JIA in March 2012 after completing the Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship working as East Coast Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program. Shortly after coming to Jekyll, I completed the requirements for my Master of Science degree from the University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. While in graduate school, I conducted research focusing on fisheries ecology and management. My undergraduate studies were completed at the University of Virginia where I studied Environmental Science.
I first came to Jekyll when I was 4 years old and vacationed here throughout my youth. One of my first jobs after college was working as a Beach Ranger under the supervision of Jan Caton. This is the job that first hooked me on studying the Georgia Coast. I moved on to build my early career with jobs focused on natural resource management, environmental research, and conservation with the National Park Service, Little Saint Simons Island, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Throughout the years, I came back to Jekyll regularly to visit my folks, who are island residents.
“Once your feet touch the sands of Jekyll Island, you will always return.” This long-stated Jekyll legend has proven true, at least for me. My appreciation for the island’s natural beauty and my interest in its complex natural systems grow with each day I spend here. My job, in a nutshell, is to make sure that these natural systems are healthy. One of my co-workers recently described me as an environmental mechanic: Instead of engines, I work with ecosystems.
The most important thing to know about Jekyll’s ecosystems is that in addition to wildlife, plants, fish, soil, water, and air, they include people. You, me, and the things we build, do, and drive. Our stewardship of Jekyll Island depends on our care and balance to the systems at play here. Whether we are working, playing, or learning, we must care about our role in the natural system and we must balance our activities on Jekyll with protection of the environment we all cherish.
Striking this delicate balance is not always an easy job but it is always an important one. I’m thankful to have a good Conservation Plan to guide my work, and a strong community of professionals with the JIA and our partner organizations to help keep Jekyll special. I hope you’ll join us in our mission to maintain a health island by following this blog and by continuing to care about Jekyll.
Always know, you can contact me if you have questions, concerns or suggestions about Conservation on Jekyll. (Phone: 912-635-9384, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) I look forward to tracking our journey!