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Consortium Staff News

Aug 1, 2021 | News

The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium has welcomed several new staff members, and Matt Gorstein, previously the agency’s Coastal Economics program specialist, was selected as assistant director for Development and Extension.

The new staff are: Brooke Saari, Coastal Environmental Quality program specialist; Roger Real Drouin, science writer; Sarah Pedigo, Shellfish Aquaculture program specialist; and Louis “Louie” Heyward, Sr., executive assistant/office manager. Interns Caitlin Bolger, Project Management graduate assistant, Shelly McComb, S.C. Clean Marina Program intern, Amanda Namsinh, Coastal Outreach intern, and Emmi Palenbaum, Extension graduate assistant, also joined the Consortium.

As the Coastal Environmental Quality program specialist, Brooke Saari focuses on addressing information needs in the areas of water quality, stormwater, and coastal water resources through science-based outreach and education. She works with Consortium member institutions’ researchers, partners, and stakeholders to develop useful outreach programs for coastal South Carolina communities. Saari earned a B.S. in environmental science from Stetson University and a M.S. in environmental science from the University of West Florida. While an undergraduate student, she served as an Americorps volunteer for the Florida State Park Service, with a focus on natural resource management.

After graduate school, Saari joined University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and Florida Sea Grant as an extension agent to deliver outreach programs on watershed awareness, fisheries and seafood, and invasive species. She also was an instructor for the Florida Master Naturalist program. Saari then went on to become the extension coordinator at Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Roger Real Drouin is the writer and editor of Coastal Heritage, the Consortium’s quarterly magazine. He coordinates photography and layout for the magazine, and writes feature articles about the Consortium’s research, outreach, and education activities for various communication platforms.

Drouin holds a M.F.A. in creative writing from Florida Atlantic University and a B.A. in English from Rollins College. Previously, he was a government reporter for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and Sarasota Observer, where he covered city hall in Sarasota, Florida. More recently, Drouin’s environmental journalism has been published in Scientific American, Yale Environment 360, The Atlantic, Mother Jones, and

Louis Heyward serves as the executive assistant/office manager and assists the executive director and office staff with meetings, travel, and conference plans. He also is the Consortium’s chief procurement officer, records manager, fleet manager, and energy and recycling coordinator.

Heyward earned a B.S. in biology and a B.A. in Spanish from Furman University, as well as completing further studies in public administration from Strayer University.

Prior to joining the Consortium, he was employed as an aquaculture biologist and education coordinator with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.

Sarah Pedigo provides operational and technical support to shellfish growers. She works with Consortium staff, member institutions’ faculty, and stakeholders to extend science-based aquaculture information to the community and to conduct applied research that addresses needs and opportunities of the aquaculture industry.

Pedigo earned a B.S. in biology and a B.A. in sustainable energy applications at Lindsey Wilson College and a M.S. in marine science from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). Pedigo’s thesis work evaluated the influence of hatchery conditioning time and different microalgal diets on the egg quality of the eastern oyster.

Previously, Pedigo was a research assistant at the UNCW Shellfish Research Hatchery. In her new role at the Consortium, Pedigo is working on numerous aquaculture research projects and reports, including a collaborative effort to assess the feasibility of developing shellfish aquaculture research at partner universities. Pedigo also is working on creating a state of knowledge report about shellfish disease in the southeastern United States, in order to identify knowledge gaps and provide a basis for future research.

Annette Parker (formerly Annette Dunmeyer), executive assistant/office manager, retired at the end of June 2021 after nearly 35 years with the Consortium.

We wish Annette all the best in retirement, and we will always remember her dedication, enthusiasm, and valuable contributions to the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, State of South Carolina, and National Sea Grant College Program.