-- Community college student Byron Brewer is gaining hands-on experience
in marine biology, thanks to a University of Southern Mississippi
scholarship endowed through the university's J.L. Scott Marine Education
Center and Aquarium.
plans to enroll at Southern Miss Gulf Coast in the fall and is doing
the preliminary research for a new exhibit, working two afternoons
a week with aquarium specialists and education staff at the Scott
resident is the first recipient of the Nick Baron One-Semester Undergraduate
Fellowship -- endowed by parents, family, friends and the Rotary
Club of Stennis Space Center in memory of Baron, a 19-year-old college
student who lost his life in an automobile accident.
Brewer is completing
his second year at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College-Jefferson
Davis Campus, attending college on the G.I. Bill after a six-year
stint with the U.S. Navy Seabees in Gulfport. The scholarship is
giving the Hancock High School graduate a broader view of his chosen
the great benefits of the fellowship is it is helping me explore
different fields of study and career options in marine biology,"
Brewer said. "It is helping me become acquainted with unfamiliar
areas of the field in which I could have an interest."
Brewer is immersed in assembling all the information he can about
the Pascagoula River, listed by the National Audubon Society as
one of the largest essentially unfragmented river systems in the
lower 48 United States and one of the healthiest river ecosystems
in the Southeast.
to offer him several options that would mean something to him in
his education and at the same time help us," said Rodney Harris,
one of Brewer's mentors at the Scott aquarium.
the research stage of preparing for the exhibit is a huge job: understanding
the watershed, looking at the estuarine habitat, the plants and
animals unique to that area, and human involvement.
will look at the general big picture and provide suggestions on
how to focus the project on specific topics. I put him in contact
with individuals in agencies and environmental groups interested
in the Pascagoula, and he is forging ahead on his own," Harris
Along the way,
Brewer has encountered the science of wetlands and their function,
an experience that has changed his perspective. The son of Cheryl
Sheffield of Lakeshore, Miss., Brewer grew up in the coastal region.
on a bayou in Hancock County," Brewer said. "Things that
I witnessed every day tidal flows and interaction of animals
I now appreciate. That is the best thing. I am relating to
the environment in a totally different way, a more personal way."