Support of the National Coral Reef Management Fellowship Program – Year 1 (2024-2026 Fellowship)

Principal Investigator/Project Director

Wendy Wood-Derrer

Colleges / Centers

Halmos College of Arts and Sciences


U.S. Department of the Interior (USDOI)

Start Date



PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Building upon the success of the past four successful cohorts of Coral Fellows, the National Coral Reef Management Fellowship Program – Year 1 (2024-2026 Fellowship) will continue this program by continuing support for the first year of the two-year positions in each of the seven U.S. coral reef jurisdictions. In addition to improving the health of coral reef ecosystems and addressing climate change in the U.S. insular areas for their long-term economic and social benefit, the Program addresses both current capacity gaps, as well as builds longer-term capacity by placing highly qualified individuals whose education and work experience meet each jurisdiction’s specific coral reef management needs. The Coral Fellowship program was identified by the insular areas as their highest priority for funding from DOI, NOAA CRC and the All Islands Committee (AIC) in the 2023-2024 grant cycle. After extensive discussion and review, the vision for this program is to develop “A thriving collaborative fellowship program that builds excellent next generation leaders and capacity for effective local coral reef ecosystem management.” As the threats of invasive species, such as Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTS) in the Pacific and lionfish in the Atlantic continue; combined with the impacts of climate change such as bleaching in the Pacific and the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) outbreak in the Caribbean, this program is timelier than ever in addressing the threats to coral reef ecosystems and their management, conservation, and restoration. This program will continue to be a partnership among the U.S. Department of Interior Office of Insular Affairs (DOI OIA), NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (NOAA CRCP), and the U.S. Coral Reef All Islands Committee (US AIC). Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) National Coral Reef Institute (NCRI) proposes to continue administration of the Program. This proposal to DOI OIA requests $213,000 to continue support of the Coral Fellows in the four insular areas – the US Virgin Islands (USVI), American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Under the partnership, NOAA will separately provide approximately $400,000 for Year 1 of the program for additional Coral Fellows in Hawaii, Florida, and Puerto Rico, as well as travel, orientation training, supplies and professional development for the seven Coral Fellows in addition to NSU NCRI project coordination. The National Coral Reef Management Fellowship Program for 2024-2026 will again be coordinated by the partners and be administered by the NCRI at NSU in close coordination with NOAA CRCP and the US AIC. The Program will provide funding for the Year 1 of the cycle for the positions to address both current capacity gaps, as well as to build longer-term capacity in each of the jurisdictions. The Program provides individual Coral Fellows with professional development opportunities and training in coastal and coral reef resource management. The Program is designed to be flexible to adapt and meet the individual coral management and policy needs of each jurisdiction. Coral Fellows work in the local jurisdictional agencies responsible for managing coral reefs and are assigned a local supervisor to help them transition into the agency and culture, as well as help guide their project work

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