The 2020 Annual Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society meeting was very rewarding for the University of Georgia Student Subunit (Subunit). For the first time ever, the Subunit was awarded the Best Student Subunit for their 2019 accomplishments. Congratulations to all the members of the Subunit (led by faculty advisor Dr. Robert Bringolf and UGA Subunit Presidents Alex Pelletier and Gina Alvarez) on achieving this honor.
The Subunit began 2019 with an impressive showing of presentations and posters at the annual Georgia Chapter AFS meeting at Lake Blackshear in Cordele, GA. Seven student members of the Subunit gave oral presentations, while 3 participated in the poster session. Furthermore, one student Subunit member earned the Ronnie J. Gilbert academic scholarship, which is presented annually to one outstanding fisheries student by the Georgia Chapter.
The Subunit had a long list of additional accomplishments in 2019, including hosting the annual Fish Fry; participating in Rivers Alive to help clean up around Carriage Lane Creek in Athens; helping Boy Scouts earn their Fishing Merit Badge; teaching kids how to fish during the Kids Fishing Day event at Sandy Creek Nature Center; and hosting workshops for Adopt-A-Stream Macroinvertebrate Certification, Coastal Fish Identification. Additional events in which the Subunit participated include CoastFest 2019 (hosted by the Georgia DNR Coastal Resources Division in Brunswick) and the annual Bioblitz. Regarding CoastFest 2019, Subunit President Gina Alvarez joined GA Chapter AFS Executive Sec-Treasurer Rebecca Brown in manning a GAAFS booth at the event, which drew over 10,000 people. Ms. Alvarez and Ms. Brown shared information about our Chapter, including the Subunit, and educated participants using a wonderful educational tool, the Fish Box, which was provided by the Georgia Museum of Natural History, a GA AFS sponsor. In a second event, Bioblitz, the Subunit challenged Clemson for the most species identified. After a fun yet vigorous challenge, UGA won…better luck next year Clemson!
Additional contributions made by the Subunit in 2019 included monetary support. The Subunit made a generous donation to the Georgia Chapter AFS annual meeting to help support the annual social/poster mixer. The GA AFS Social/Poster Mixer is a way for students and professionals to interact in addition to students and professionals presenting their research. Additionally, the Subunit made a donation through an Embrace a Stream Challenge to help support the Chattahoochee River Wild Trout Improvement Project. This project involves the restoration of Crayfish Creek, a tributary of the Chattahoochee River north of Atlanta. The goal of the project is to improve the water quality of Crayfish Creek by stabilizing eroded streambanks, removing non-native debris, and restoring native riparian vegetation. Each of these financial contributions provided much-needed assistance and is greatly appreciated.
Final noteworthy achievements made by the Subunit in 2019 included hosting several presentations during monthly Subunit meetings. Topics of presentations included how to find a job in fisheries; water connectivity; the plasticity of pallid sturgeon in the Midwest; Georgia DNR Bass Slam; oyster aquaculture; and lionfish acoustics.
On behalf of the entire GA AFS Chapter, we extend our utmost congratulations to the Subunit on a wonderful 2019! Keep up the great work, and we look forward to reading and hearing about your 2020 accomplishments!