Voices of IFAS: Vincent Encomio
Name – Vincent Encomio
Position – Florida Sea Grant Multi-County Extension Agent, Martin & St. Lucie Counties
Hometown – Turlock, CA
Years at UF/IFAS – 3
Describe your role at UF/IFAS?
My current extension programming covers primarily Coastal Health, including habitat restoration, and water quality. I work with stakeholders and partners on estuarine habitat restoration, particularly living shorelines and related extension education. In water quality, I assist in teaching county stormwater education programs and extensions related to Harmful Algal Blooms. I also do some work in aquaculture, providing support to local shellfish producers and working with partners in restoration aquaculture projects.
How did your background/experiences shape your interest in your current field?
I am from a major agricultural region of the US and grew up raising poultry on my dad’s ranch. Marine science and biology were interests I took up later in life as a young adult. In a way, I feel extension work connects these very different backgrounds. Working as a Sea Grant extension agent within UF IFAS feels like I’ve come full circle!
Who do you admire?
My marine biology hero for a long time has been Ed Ricketts, the inspiration for Doc in Cannery Row. He was a naturalist, explorer, philosopher, and influence on some of our great writers, John Steinbeck is one of them. I recommend Ricketts’ classic Between Pacific Tides. It’s a great look back into the natural history of a beautiful, but now vastly changed region.
What inspires you?
Adaptation. In an evolutionary sense, in the natural world, and socially/culturally in the capacity of humans to change and work (hopefully benignly) with the environment around them.
What are your hobbies?
Surfing mainly, but also diving. When I was a kid, I was an avid comic book collector. I’m hoping those comics will help pay for my kids’ college!
What are one or two things people can do when they go to the beach to protect the ocean?
Pick up trash on your own when you can. And enjoy the ocean and beach overall its seasons and moods in any way you can, even just sitting on the beach and enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells. Over time the ocean will mean just that much more to you.
What kind of long-lasting impact do you want to leave in the community?
I hope my work leads to more people adopting sustainable, nature-based solutions to improve their lives, that they recognize that their local waters are a source of sustenance, health, opportunity, and fun for everyone; and they’re inspired to work towards the continual improvement of its health.