Maia Griffith is Pigeon Key’s newest full-time staff member, joining on as the Education Coordinator at the end of August this year! She took over the role once Callie became Education Director. Maia was an intern here starting in January 2022 and was thrilled to be asked to stay. Keep reading to learn more about Maia and her new role on the island!
What is your role within the Pigeon Key Foundation?
As the Education Coordinator, I assist Callie in leading on-island education when schools and summer campers are here. I am also in charge of updating and editing all of the marine science programs we offer here on Pigeon Key, running our social media accounts including Instagram, Facebook, and the website, and maintaining the gear we use with groups. I also help Chris with a variety of miscellaneous island jobs when needed.
What is your background?
I grew up in Southern California and always had a love for the ocean. In college I pursued my passion for the environment and got a Bachelor of Science in Conservation and Resource Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. After graduating, I worked with a PhD student there studying juvenile Coho salmon and steelhead trout in the field, before moving to Hawaii where I got more field work experience monitoring hawksbill sea turtles. I then arrived to Pigeon Key as an intern in January of this year, excited to explore marine science outreach and education. I can’t wait to continue on as a full-time staff member here!
What is your favorite part of your job?
Being able to snorkel or tidepool most days of the week during season for work is incredible. I love swimming and snorkeling for fun, so getting to do that as a job is a dream. Plus, being a part of helping students get more comfortable in the water is so rewarding!
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Swimming and snorkeling of course, plus running, walking, or biking on the Old 7 Mile Bridge are some of my favorite activities! I also can’t wait to try out the new paddleboards iRocker donated to us!
What is your best Pigeon Key memory?
One that really stands out to me is hanging out on the dock at sunset during the first week Belle, Katie and I arrived as interns in January, enjoying the weather and the view, when a nurse shark cruised past us and circled around the dock for a while. That moment just felt so surreal, and I felt so lucky to be able to live in a place so connected to the ocean that allowed me to be around amazing animals like sharks, sea turtles, manatees, tons of different fish, and so much more just outside my door!
And the most important question of all…what is your favorite sea creature?
This is obviously the hardest question as a marine biologist, but I’ll go with the Peacock Mantis Shrimp. Not only are they beautifully colored, but their behavior and biology are so rad! I got to work with them in undergrad, and got to know each one’s personality in the lab and see them use their powerful punches (the most powerful punch in the animal kingdom) to capture prey. Around here, I’ve gotten to see the local mantis shrimp that are much smaller and less colorful, but I still love watching them while I’m out snorkeling!