North Carolina Sea Grant
Coastwatch Currents

Coastwatch Currents

December 19, 2016 | Sara Mirabilio

The American Fisheries Society Tidewater Chapter is now accepting nominations for its annual awards along with applications for the Eileen Setzler-Hamilton Memorial graduate scholarship. Submissions are due Monday, Feb. 6.

Recipients must reside or attend school in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia or North Carolina. Winners will be recognized at the chapter’s annual meeting, March 9 to 11 at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The Conservation Award is given to an individual, resource-management agency, business or nonprofit organization that has accomplished notable fisheries or habitat conservation activities. Last year, the chapter recognized former Maryland State Senator Bernie Fowler for his life-long commitment to the health of Maryland’s waters.

Since 1988, former Maryland State Senator Bernie Fowler has worn the same white sneakers for his annual “Wade-In” event to raise awareness of the health of Maryland’s waters. Courtesy Maryland Department of Planning.

For almost 30 years, Mr. Fowler has waded into the Patuxent River wearing the same pair of white sneakers to bring attention to local water quality. Nutrient and sediment pollution are the main causes of poor water clarity. The sneakers disappeared from view at 31 inches in 2016 — an increase of 20 inches from his first dip into the water in 1988.

Thomas J. Miller, a professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and director of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, received last year’s Excellence in  Fisheries Education Award. The award is given to an individual who has achieved excellence in teaching and student advising in the field of fisheries science or a closely-related curriculum, and who also encourages student participation in the American Fisheries Society, Tidewater Chapter and other fisheries-related meetings.

A Meritorious Service Award also will be given to a chapter member for their “unswerving loyalty, dedication and service in advancing the programs, objectives and long-term goals of the Chapter.” Stephanie McInerny, license and statistics section chief with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, received last year’s award for serving as chapter secretary and treasurer since 2006.

Submissions for the Conservation, Excellence in Fisheries Education and Meritorious Service awards should include a brief description of why you think the nominee deserves the award. Please email nominations by Monday, Feb. 6 to Sara Mirabilio, awards and scholarship committee chair for the chapter, at Mirabilio works as one of two fisheries specialists for North Carolina Sea Grant.

Sara Mirabilio, right, presents Rebecca Peters, a graduate student at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, with last year’s Eileen-Setzler Memorial Scholarship. Courtesy John Cooper.

Since 2003, the Eileen Setzler-Hamilton Memorial Scholarship has been awarded to an outstanding graduate student displaying a commitment to professional endeavors and public service. The award honors Setzler-Hamilton, a long-time member of the American Fisheries Society and past president of the Tidewater Chapter.

The $500 scholarship is open to graduate students currently enrolled in a fisheries science or closely-related program. The 2016 recipient was Rebecca Peters, a master’s student in the marine-estuarine-environmental sciences graduate program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Instructions and forms for the scholarship application can be found at the bottom of this page.

As a committee chair, Mirabilio serves on the Tidewater Chapter executive committee alongside Scott Baker, North Carolina Sea Grant’s second fisheries extension specialist, who currently is serving as past-president.

Mirabilio encourages professionals and students to submit abstracts for oral and poster presentations at the March meeting. “The annual meeting provides excellent professional development opportunities, and it’s a great way to stay current with research,” she adds. “We also give monetary awards to the best student poster and oral presentations as an added incentive to attend.”

In addition to presentations, the meeting also features social events and a community service project. Willing volunteers can spend the afternoon on Thursday, March 9 assisting Lynnhaven River NOW with invasive species removal and a river cleanup.

For questions about award nominations and the scholarship application, contact Mirabilio at 252-475-5488.

Eileen Setzler-Hamilton Memorial Scholarship Application Materials

Completed applications should be emailed by Monday, Feb. 6 to Sara Mirabilio at

Comments are closed.