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Volunteer of the Year

2014 VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR

Matthew StoutMatthew Stout
Texas A&M Galveston, Student
Galveston, TX

Matt Stout came to our program as an undergraduate student, participating in the inaugural Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS) Specialty Course. This course was offered to outstanding students in the Scientific Diving Program at Texas A&M University at Galveston, giving them the opportunity to learn fish and coral identification and survey techniques specific to the sanctuary. Students, like Matt, who performed well in this course were offered opportunities to join FGBNMS research cruises throughout the year to gain hands-on experience.

Matt excelled in the field, going above and beyond to learn and master the techniques and methods that were presented to him. He also volunteered over 250 hours of time (50 more hours than other leading volunteers) in both a research and education/outreach capacity.

Diver spearing a lionfish
Matt Stout removes an invasive lionfish from the sanctuary.
Image: FGBNMS/Embesi

As a research diver, he participated in all of the FGBNMS Long-Term Monitoring cruises and the National Coral Reef Monitoring Cruise providing scientific support with fish and reef surveys, lionfish removal, and lionfish dissections. As deck support, he participated in remotely operated vehicle (ROV) cruises managing ROV lines for launch, exploration, and retrieval, and assisting with deepwater biology identification.

Two people dissecting lionfish at a counter
Matt Stout and Amanda Sterne help dissect invasive lionfish during a research cruise. Image: FGBNMS/Johnston

Matt is an extremely personable and enthusiastic volunteer. His infectious enthusiasm is apparent during public outreach events, where he interacts equally well with both children and adults.

He is always willing to learn and step up to help. All tasks assigned to him are reliably and happily performed, including donning rain gear to stand on deck and tend the ROV umbilical for many hours, or sitting topside in the Texas summer heat as a safety diver ensuring the safety of the dive team.

Matt Stout pointing to sea with the sun setting in the background.
Matt Stout enjoys a peaceful sunset on site at the sanctuary. Image: FGBNMS/Embesi

Matt is a full time student at Texas A&M University at Galveston, studying Marine Biology, but he has prioritized volunteering with the FGBNMS and worked closely with his professors to accommodate both his volunteering and his scholastic obligations.

Matt Stout receiving his volunteer of the year plaque from GP Schmahl
Sanctuary Superintendent G.P. Schmahl presents
Matt Stout with his award.

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