Vincent Encomio is all about building resiliency and sustainability for Florida’s coastlines.
As a Florida Sea Grant agent for UF/IFAS Extension Martin and St. Lucie counties, Encomio has made significant strides in enhancing environmental literacy and stewardship along the Treasure Coast, focusing on habitat restoration, harmful algal blooms and aquaculture for the last five years.
On December 14, the Florida Association of Environmental Professionals Treasure Coast Chapter (TCC-FAEP) will recognize Encomio as one of five 2023 Environmental Excellence Award recipients. His Extension work on living shorelines along the Atlantic coast in the Southeast was nominated for its ingenuity, dedication and vision in addressing local environmental challenges.
Encomio has been a driving force behind the Florida Sea Grant Marine Contractor Living Shoreline Training Course. The program meets a critical need for coastal consumers that aims to prepare the coastal workforce to meet the increasing demands for living shorelines.
“Locally, the Indian River Lagoon region has a close-knit group of environmental professionals that are eager to share knowledge with each other to benefit the health of the lagoon. Working in this community has been an enormously gratifying experience,” said Encomio. “I am blessed to work among a great team of colleagues in Florida Sea Grant and UF/IFAS who are passionate about spreading knowledge of nature-based solutions like living shorelines throughout Florida.”
Living shorelines are a natural coastal resiliency strategy using plants and habitat structures such as oyster reefs to strengthen beaches against erosion. The technique’s most recent success gained national attention in Cedar Key as living shoreline projects as the tiny coastal town weathered Hurricane Idalia’s winds and storm surge.
With his course, Encomio has successfully educated and trained industries to take green, nature-based approaches to stabilize estuary shorelines and make coastlines more resilient to erosion and rising sea levels. Target audiences range from the marine construction industry to environmental consultants, landscape professionals, waterfront homeowners, local governments and environmental non-profits.
Together with program assistant Mandy Sunshine Baily and his Florida Sea Grant colleagues, he has led numerous lectures and training classes throughout the region, educating the public, marine contractors and municipal staff about the importance of living shorelines and providing valuable tools and resources to implement living shoreline design and construction.
“You can find Vincent building a living shoreline and designing reef prisms with Eagle Scouts, providing expertise to local governments, or leading a citizen science Water Ambassador program,” said Josh Mills, a TCC-FAEP board member. “While his title states extension agent for Martin and St. Lucie counties, his name is known and respected statewide. We are fortunate and proud to claim Dr. Vincent Encomio as a part of our Treasure Coast FAEP family.”
“Vincent’s ability to lead and educate has been evident by the 30 or more volunteers attending citizen science events that include oyster bagging, reef deployments, seagrass mat making, and more. That same passion for education and engagement exists today with his Sea Grant work,” according to the board’s summary.
The Treasure Coast Chapter is the local affiliate of the FAEP and the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP), a multidisciplinary association of environmental experts from a variety of disciplines, including biologists, scientists, geologists, environmental engineers, environmental attorneys, wetland scientists, botanists, planners who perform a variety of environmental work to promote resiliency and sustainability. The association also serves as a forum in which state-of-the-art environmental planning, research, and management is advanced.
By Lourdes Mederos, email@example.com
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.
ABOUT FLORIDA SEA GRANT
The Florida Sea Grant program, hosted at UF/IFAS, is a university-based program that supports research, education and Extension to conserve coastal resources and enhance economic opportunities for the people of Florida. In addition to UF/IFAS, the program is a partnership between Florida universities, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and county governments.