Cayla Cothron has joined North Carolina Sea Grant’s team, adding her experience in coastal and watershed resilience to the program’s extension team.
“Cayla brings an impressive track record of working with communities as a public and private sector planner,” says Frank López, NC Sea Grant’s extension director.
As a new climate resilience extension associate, Cothron will focus on outreach and collaborative efforts. She notes that “Sea Grant serves a unique role in building relationships and facilitating discussions with communities,” an element that drew her to the position.
Cothron will connect with coastal communities and natural resource managers, working alongside NC Sea Grant staff like López; Sarah Spiegler, coastal resilience specialist; and Spencer Rogers, coastal construction and erosion specialist; as well as a variety of researchers across the state.
She also will work directly with students, partners and individuals, including providing assistance to graduate student fellows doing coastal resilience research. In particular, she will continue partnerships of the North Carolina Sentinel Site program along the state’s coastal region.
North Carolina’s coastline is “positioned to have ongoing impacts from climate change,” Cothron explains, and that requires proactive planning on part of researchers looking to mitigate potential damage. With climate impacts at the forefront of her work, Cothron will assist a coastal community to improve its climate risk communication.
Originally from Florida, Cothron knew that she “loved the Earth” and wanted to pursue a career with that passion at the forefront. She earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies at Florida State University, soon followed up by a master’s of urban and regional planning at the University of Colorado Denver. Her prior positions focused on community planning efforts, most recently working for the City of Vancouver in Washington.
With a return to the Southeast, Cothron says that North Carolina, in a lot of ways, “feels like home for me.” She’s ready to bring what she’s learned from her cross-country experiences to make changes in places and ecosystems that, as she says, “made me who I am today.”
“We look forward to Cayla joining the NC Sea Grant extension team and continuing our program’s commitment to helping coastal communities consider the immediate and longer term impacts that they face from our changing climate,” López says.