Collins wins 2020 Don Sweat Sea Grant Extension Award

Angela Collins, UF/IFAS Extension Sea Grant agent in Manatee, Hillsborough and Sarasota counties, has been awarded the 2020 Don Sweat Sea Grant Extension Award.

“It truly is an honor and I am humbled by the nomination,” Collins said. “I am very proud to work with such an amazing group of people.”

The award is presented annually to a Florida Sea Grant agent for taking initiative, being innovative, demonstrating creativity, and providing leadership in their extension programming.

In her five and a half years with Florida Sea Grant, Collins has focused on assisting the regional seafood industry, including marine fisheries and commercial shellfish farmers. She actively seeks to reach diverse audiences associated with recreational and commercial fisheries, coastal resource users, public and private organizations, government agencies, youth groups and educational institutions.

One of her most impactful statewide programs is the Great Goliath Grouper Count, which trains volunteers to record observations of goliath grouper, a fish that can reach 800 pounds and grow to over 8 feet in length. Data from the program are provided to state agencies for use during stock assessments of the species.

In 2018, Collins began planning the 2020 Florida Artificial Reef Summit, or FARS, which brings together program coordinators, fishery managers, scientists and constituency groups to discuss best practices and lessons learned related to artificial reefs. As summit co-chair, along with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservations Commission’s Keith Mille, Collins led the group as restrictions and changes resulting from COVID-19 forced the conference to transition from an in-person to a virtual event. She researched and implemented use of a virtual conference platform, oversaw recording of all 30 summit presentations, worked with sponsors, organized team members and registered participants, all while fielding questions and promoting the event.

“As a direct result of her outstanding performance, this event was a complete success,” said Ana Zangroniz, UF/IFAS Extension Sea Grant agent in Miami-Dade County and FARS Steering Committee member. “She set the bar for these types of events, going above and beyond what her role called for.”

Collins is also co-chair of the Florida Sea Grant Fisheries Work Action Group. In this role, she helps keep the team informed of new state and federal fisheries requirements, works to create and update informative fisheries-related materials on the Florida Sea Grant website, and helps strategize Florida Sea Grant efforts related to commercial and recreational fisheries.

“Angela is a such a strong agent and is very deserving of this award,” said Maia McGuire, Florida Sea Grant Associate Director for Extension and Education. “Several of her colleagues praised her commitment, willingness to collaborate and hard work in their nomination letters.”

As part of the award, Collins will receive $500 in program support and her name has been added to the permanent plaque on display at the Florida Sea Grant state headquarters at the University of Florida.