For one College of Agricultural and Life Sciences student, a series of volunteer experiences amplified her passion for a future career in marine science.
From a young age, Allie Marshbanks, has been interested in water and aquatic environments. Since her father served in the Coast Guard, Marshbanks was exposed to a variety of marine environments as her family traveled the world.
From surfing in Hawaii to scuba diving in the Florida Keys, she has explored some of the most breathtaking waters in the world
“One of my favorite experiences was going surfing and stand-up paddle boarding while living in Puerto Rico for junior and senior year of high school,” Marshbanks said. “Sometimes in the mornings before school started, I would go surfing or paddling with friends at the crack of dawn!”
As her aquatic experience grew, so did her passion for conserving aquatic animals, plants and marine environments. This led her to become a marine sciences student at the University of Florida.
Now as a fourth-year marine sciences student, Marshbanks is involved in the Marine Biology Club, Gator SCUBA Club and Aquatic Adventures Club. Through the Marine Biology Club, she learned about the volunteer opportunities with UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station.
Over the summer, Marshbanks volunteered with the Nature Coast Biological Station in Cedar Key, Florida. She learned how to transplant marsh grasses (Spartina patens) and created oyster sills, a shoreline stabilization technique that creates a “living shoreline.”
“This volunteer work positively impacts the environment, as transplanting marsh grasses helps slow down coastal erosion and the creation of oyster sills helps to recruit oysters to the shoreline area, while also improving water quality and overall production,” Marshbanks said.
Upon graduation in the spring of 2021, Marshbanks plans to join the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Corps to gain experience in the field and explore a range of marine science career paths. She then plans to attend graduate school to study marine ecology or conservation of aquatic organisms.
Marshbanks said, “I believe the work I do through volunteering is important to my academic career because I am able to see how fieldwork is conducted, along with where different marine interests could lead, career-wise.”