Erika Young joins NC Sea Grant as education specialist

Published 12:50 pm Thursday, January 13, 2022

Erika Young has joined North Carolina Sea Grant as the coastal and marine education specialist.

“Education is a pillar of the NC Sea Grant program,” noted Susan White, executive director. “Erika embodies a genuine ‘sense of wonder’ about the N.C. coast, and has a successful record of working with diverse audiences. We are pleased that she has joined our team.”

Young had been on faculty at the University of North Carolina Pembroke for 13 years and served as a mentor for students there through the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement. She also has been active in science education outreach through programs such as the Morehead Planetarium, NC Science Festival and Boys and Girls Clubs.

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“I often visit local schools in underprivileged counties to talk to K-12 students about STEM fields. I grew up in Robeson County and understand how important it is to have a connection with your audience,” she explained.

“As a first-year college, Native American undergraduate student, I was unaware of the multitude of undergraduate opportunities, let alone research,” she recalled. But she applied for a summer opportunity to study herpetology in Indiana, a step that set her career path.

“I collected local frogs and tadpoles from ponds to study pigmentation and camouflage,” she recalled. That led to additional undergraduate research opportunities at/through UNCP; then a master’s degree from Western Carolina University; and her doctorate from UNC Chapel Hill, where she “focused on aquatic ecology with emphasis in estuarine habitats, oyster biodeposition, meiofauna, and sea-level rise.”

Young will be based at North Carolina Sea Grant’s headquarters at NC State University and will serve the entire state. She will work with a variety of partners, such as the N.C. Office of Environmental Education.

“I am super excited to be a part of NC Sea Grant and look forward to developing relationships with our various stakeholders and continuing stewardship for our coasts,” Young added.

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