2018 Volunteer of the Year

Andrea standing in front of the sanctuary display at a community event.

Nicole Morgan
Galveston, TX

Nicole Morgan first volunteered with the sanctuary in 2015 when she was a student at Texas A&M University at Galveston. Through her course of study in the marine environment, she heard about the sanctuary and the need for interested, informed individuals to help meet sanctuary goals. She started out by helping with Ocean Discovery Day, a community outreach event. Her participation in this and other sanctuary outreach activities has helped make citizens more aware of how valuable the sanctuary is to the public.

Volunteer Nicole Morgan collecting water samples from the CTD carousel on board R/V MANTA. (Video: FGBNMS/Drinnen)

Nicole then began volunteering with the research team by participating as a science diver on expeditions to the sanctuary. This involved both mobilization and demobilization of the vessel, as well as diving in the sanctuary to collect data and monitor the health of sanctuary resources. Back on land, she has helped by examining and cataloging long-term monitoring images and analyzing ROV surveys from explorations outside the sanctuary, which contributes to information supporting sanctuary expansion. Nicole has also assisted with lionfish dissections.

Nicole doing a giant stride into the water in full scuba gear near a gas platform
Nicole jumping in to do fish surveys on a nearby platform. (Image: FGBNMS/Embesi)

While working with the research team, Nicole learned about opportunities to provide support for other aspects of sanctuary management. She now routinely assists with Sanctuary Advisory Council meetings. Her contributions help ensure that council meetings run smoothly so members can focus on the issues at hand.

Nicole is a well-rounded volunteer, interested in all aspects of the sanctuary’s success, and has proven to be an invaluable asset to the sanctuary over the past several years.

Nicole seated at a table covered in paperwork
Nicole (right) and another diver recording data after a survey. (Image: FGBNMS/Embesi)