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People of the Restoration Center

Meg Goecker

Habitat Restoration Specialist: Mobile, Alabama

I work in Mobile, Alabama, as part of the Restoration Center’s Community-based Restoration Program and Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration Program I work as a technical monitor for projects in Mississippi and Alabama and I assist potential applicants in developing project ideas for future funding opportunities.  I am currently involved in damage assessment and restoration planning associated with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

What is that you like most about your job? I enjoy working with enthusiastic grass-roots community groups that, at first, may have small ideas but together can grow into a great restoration project for the region and local communities.  Also, being part of the effort to assess damage and eventually restore areas of the Gulf of Mexico that have been impacted by the oil spill is rewarding and will be a positive outcome to a difficult situation.

What is the hardest part about your job?  Restoration ecology is a relatively young scientific discipline, which means, in many cases, that we are still learning how to effectively and efficiently restore critical habitats.  Often with small budgets and short project times, we don’t always learn all the lessons we can from our efforts.

How long have you been with the Restoration Center, and what interested you in working for NOAA? I started working on the Restoration Center in June 2009.  I was drawn to the position because of my passion for the local marine environment and the difference that habitat restoration can make, no matter how small the footprint.  Also, the Restoration Center has a unique arrangement with regional staff that get to know and work closely with their local partners to develop projects.  This is really a fantastic way to engage communities in federal funding programs.

What advice would you give young people thinking about becoming a habitat restoration specialist? Restoration science is gaining momentum and will need a great new crop of young scientists that can really make a difference to reverse damages from past actions.  Look around at the marine environments you encounter and take time to notice how human actions affect that environment and how we might fix or change those actions.  Learn all the science you can and see how that can apply to every aspect of restoration.  The opportunities are endless.