Experiences beyond the college classroom can help to shape your professional path. Northern Gulf of Mexico (NGOM) Sentinel Site Project Coordinator Casey Fulford can attest to that. 

During her time at Florida State University, Fulford interned at the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory in Panacea, Florida. After graduation in December of 2013, she traveled east to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab to continue learning about the marine animals and habitats of the Gulf of Mexico. 

As a volunteer in Dr. Ruth Carmichael's lab, Fulford's lab and field experiences offered insight into the various processes that can be used to conduct research. Volunteering led to an internship with NGOM Sentinel Site Cooperative, and today she is the Project Coordinator for NGOM. 

"The information I have learned along the way has proven time and time again to be invaluable, and I know through this position that I will be able to expand that knowledge even further," Fulford said. "Being apart of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab community and the Cooperative has opened many doors in this field, and I am extremely grateful to be a part of these great organizations." 

In her current position, Fulford is working to organize and develop case study videos to showcase verious projects throughout the Gulf of Mexico that have been completed tomake communities more resilient to natural hazards, like sea-level rise and storm surge.

"The Cooperative and its partners strive to put the right informational resources in decision-makers hands, and these case studies will help to reach more audiences," Fulford explained. "It makes the job so much more interesting, because 14 million people (U.S. Census, 2010), including myself, call the Gulf Coast home."  

When needed, a visit to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab's Estuarium can provide a bit of inspiration. 

"When I get stuck on a task and need a break, I take a walk and visit the Estuarium to see their resident octopus. Watching him move around in his enclosure is the little break I need to return with fresh ideas and complete the task at hand."
Fulford adds there is something mesmerizing about the intricate patterns they can create on their skin.