Ms "Mike" Gantt

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Retired)

Ms. “Mike” Gantt is retired from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service after 33 years of service to helping conserve our nation’s fish and wildlife public trust resources.  She served as the Field Supervisor of the Raleigh, NC Ecological Services Office, then became Special Assistant to the Regional Director for Ecosystems, and ultimately served as the Southeast Regional Ecosystems and Grants Coordinator.  In her later years, she was a Coach for the Service’s “Stepping Up to Leadership” Program.  She was also a Charter Member of the Natural Resources Leadership Institute at North Carolina State University. Today, she devotes her time to her family, gardens and love of watercolor.

How have you been involved with APNEP, present or past?

My involvement in the Albemarle Pamlico Estuarine Study (APES) was through my position as Field Supervisor of the Raleigh Field Office of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service). While I am retired and do not currently speak for the Service or Federal Government, I was most fortunate to have been involved in the initiation and development of the Albemarle Pamlico Estuarine Program, the first such Federal-State Coastal Program in the Southeast United States.  It was based on the need to address water quality, important habitats and fisheries of this unique and highly diverse estuarine ecosystem, while at the same time addressing projected future demands with increasing population and economic growth.  The program was deemed necessary to promote environmental sustainability.

I served on the Policy Committee from the time of its inception through 1994. Service employees also served on the Technical Committee.  The hard work of these committees, and valuable input from the important Citizen Advisory Committees led to the development of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) in 1994.

Tell us how your work, organization, or research has contributed to our collective mission of identifying, protecting, and restoring the significant resources of the Albemarle-Pamlico system.

The mission of the Service entails working with others to protect, conserve and enhance fish, wildlife and plant resources for the continuing benefit of the American people.  As such, we endeavored to focus our activities in four major areas: 

  1. to identify the most important natural resource problems in the area and potential solutions;
  2. to bring the capabilities of the Service’s scientists and others to influence planning and environmentally-sustainable decision-making;
  3. to form partnerships with others to implement solutions to identified problems, resulting in “on-the-ground” benefits for fish and wildlife resources; and
  4. to target environmental outreach to help build a stewardship ethic and catalyze the public to help solve problems and ultimately help promote environmentally-sound decisions.

What does it mean to you to be an APNEP partner?  Describe how your involvement has enhanced or benefitted your work, organization or research.

Our involvement in the Study benefitted the Service’s work in many ways.  In retrospect, the greatest benefit came from the networking and the resulting building of trust amongst partners involved with APES (federal, state, local governments, and the citizen groups).  As Margaret Mead once said……. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  Though partnerships take time to develop, real dialogue and trust are essential for success.  The end result of reaching commitment to the process and consensus is worth the time taken, and one of the best ways a truly “win-win” situation can be attained.

In my opinion, there are three main ways the Service benefitted through being involved in the Study:

  1. Service involvement in this Study provided an opportunity to work directly with researchers and share our needs, which in many cases led to studies and research that helped the Service make better decisions for fish and wildlife and for the public. 
  2. We viewed the Study as an avenue to help the public better understand the Service, what it does, and how it carries out its responsibilities. 
  3. By having the Service’s technical biologists serve on the Technical Committee, we were also able to share our scientific knowledge with others, learn from others, and reach consensus on the highest priority needs.  All led to better decision-making and “on-the-ground” accomplishments that directly benefitted fish and wildlife.

During our involvement, the FWS had many accomplishments, but the main message I’d like to share is that most of these could not have been accomplished without partnerships, many which were developed through the APES program.

Share your elevator pitch! If you had 1 minute to convince someone about the importance of investing in (or providing other types of support for) research, monitoring, education, conservation, restoration, etc. of the A-P system, what would you say?

The Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine system simply must be protected and conserved for future generations to enjoy.  The Sounds, tributaries and surrounding lands provide a “temperature gauge” of how healthy our State is…not only environmentally, but economically, too.  Environmentally healthy habitats for fish and wildlife resources translate into healthy habitats for people and a healthy economy, too.

People need clean water, healthy fisheries, wildlife and wild places for many reasons...including just knowing that they will be there for future generations to enjoy.

Tell us an interesting fact or story about the A-P watershed and estuarine system that may not be common knowledge.

The Albemarle Pamlico estuarine area is the second largest estuarine system in the United States, is home to nine National Wildlife Refuges, provides critically important nursery areas for many fishery species and offers people many remarkable natural areas to commune with nature.  The estuarine system and its associated lands provide billions of dollars to the region’s economy through recreational and commercial fishing, hunting, photography, and many types of outdoor recreation.  The region is fortunate to have an estuary that supports nine refuges which serve to provide important waterfowl and shorebird habitat for migrating birds, as well as habitat for endangered and threatened species.  The refuges also offer the public many opportunities to enjoy nature at its best!

Is there anything else you would like to share about your involvement with APNEP?

Yes!  Environmentally-sustainable development is and should be a non-partisan effort.  We ALL win when we can truly learn how to communicate with one another, and APNEP helps accomplish that point. The people involved are the partnership’s greatest asset!  Keep up the tremendous work!

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