Alaska Sea Grant State Fellow Robin McKnight is working this year with the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF). Her fellowship focuses on supporting shellfish and seaweed mariculture development, an area of interest and investment in Alaska and nationally.
McKnight serves as a mariculture development coordinator at AFDF. She uses her background in science communication, public outreach, and community engagement to create public outreach materials. With the help of partner organizations, she works closely with industry professionals and facilitates discussions around best practices related to kelp farming.
“Connecting with shellfish and kelp farmers has been a highlight of my work so far,” McKnight shared. She attended the first “Seagriculture” conference in the U.S., where experts in seaweed mariculture shared relevant research, and discussed challenges and what the future holds for the industry.
McKnight was raised in Seward, on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. She shared that growing up in a small coastal town impacted the way she thinks about both community and the environment. “The relationship we have to our surrounding environment informs how we better our communities. Understanding this relationship has been central to my educational and career decisions.” McKnight spent eight summers working for Kenai Fjords National Park as an interpretive ranger.
Her experiences extend well beyond Alaska. McKnight earned her undergraduate B.S. degree in environment and society from Florida State University and a master’s degree in coastal and marine management at the University Centre of the Westfjords in Ísafjörður, Iceland.
Once again back in Alaska, McKnight is excited to apply what she learned in her master’s program to communities close to home. “The Alaska Sea Grant State Fellowship is an opportunity to participate in important work and re-engage with Alaska after two years abroad,” she said. “AFDF has been instrumental in developing mariculture in Alaska, and I am excited to learn more from those who are passionate about pursuing this industry as an avenue for connecting communities with the coastal resources of Alaska.”