MaST Alumni: Where Are They Now?
Matt McDaniel had been out of school for 15 years when he decided to pursue his passion: working with and studying our local fish populations. In 2003 he began volunteering at the Marine Science and Technology Center (MaST) and eventually became a student worker. Matt started with just one class at Highline, Oceanography, with instructor Rus Higley. To this day he credits Higley for not letting him give up. After Highline, Matt went on to earn a degree at the University of Washington in Aquatic Fishery Science. He now works as the manager of the White Rivery Hatchery in Auburn, and along with day-to-day operations of the facility, he is also involved in the long-term recovery plan for the White River. Matt is still involved with the MaST as a volunteer and ultimately followed in his mentor's footsteps and finds time to teach a Fish Indentification and Habitat class at Green River College. His advice to those who are thinking of following a dream, "If you are serious about it, volunteer, get involved."
Lila Jones: Marine biologist, activist, business owner and MERMAID! Lila was extremely active with the MaST as a student and volunteer while earning her associates degree in 2010. She then attended Hawaii Pacific University on Oahu and earned a bachelor's degree in Marine Biology. She traveled extensively with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) conducting research and developing a passion and plan for activism. Hawaii is home to several resorts that use captive dolphins as an attraction for tourists. Lila is strongly against the practice and would like to see the tourism industry embrace excursions to see dolphins in the wild instead. She has spearheaded a petition to prevent the creation of any new captive-dolphin-based resorts in Hawaii and is hoping to cross the threshhold of 100,000 signatures, which would then automatically forward the petition to the White House. Lila also opened a small business last year, The Light of Lumuria Retreats on the island of Maui. It is a Mermaid school where she teaches island visitors of all ages about the ocean and ecology through fun and adventure.