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People of the Restoration Center

Cheryl Brodnax

Habitat Restoration Specialist: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

I work in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as part of the Restoration Centerís Community-based Restoration Program, the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) effort, and in the Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration Program. I am focused on Louisiana, where I primarily serve as a project manager of both ecosystem-scaled and grass-roots habitat restoration projects.

What is it that you like most about your job? I like experiencing how a positive effort, no matter how small, can make a cumulative impact on the health of our coasts. Whether multi-million dollar projects or community beach sweeps, every hand counts, and Iím grateful to be part of that.

What is the hardest part of your job? I suppose the hardest part of my job is having patience in the fact that there are few quick fixes. The current condition of our coasts did not happen overnight, nor will its restoration. Sustainable restoration is usually a result of thoughtful study, design, and collaboration with multiple stakeholders, which takes time and perseverance.

How long have you been with the Restoration Center, and what interested you in working for NOAA? I have been with the Restoration Center since October 2002. As a previous employee of the State of Louisiana, I had worked with and long respected staff that I had met from NOAA. When an opportunity came to join the agency, I couldnít pass it up.

What advice would you give young people thinking about becoming a habitat restoration specialist? I would encourage them to learn as much about their field as they can by becoming involved with NOAA activities in their community. Volunteering is an excellent way to meet NOAA staff and experience first-hand our mission of restoring coastal habitat. Furthermore, NOAA offers wonderful internship opportunities that can open the door to a long and rewarding career.