The Southeast Coastal Ambassadors are a special group of volunteers, located within the southeast region of our coast, that are actively engaged and educated in the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s work and projects.
Sue Allen retired from nursing a few years ago and moved to Wilmington. She has always been a lover of the coast and a good steward of the earth. Sue dedicates much of her time volunteering not only with the federation, but with Airlie Gardens, Cape Fear River Watch and NHC Parks Trash Mob. She is the mother to three children and grandmother to one grandson whom she nags regularly to recycle, use reusable grocery bags and water bottles and pick up trash. She also spends time quilting, gardening, caring for her two lovable dogs and watching baseball. Sue is almost as passionate about baseball as she is the coast. Go Cubs GO!
David Cignotti is a retired public school teacher / assistant principal, a longtime resident and former mayor of Wrightsville Beach and a proud alumnus of the University of North Carolina Wilmington. More importantly, he has been a member of the federation for over 20 years! David was instrumental in the relocation of the current southeast office and education center. He serves on our advisory committee, regularly advocates in the Don’t Drill Coalition, participates in numerous outreach events and educates folks at Touch Tank Tuesday.
Angie Crowe moved to Wilmington in July 2018 and joined the federation in March 2019. She graduated from Ohio State University, majoring in Zoology with a specialty in Aquatic Ecology. After graduating from OSU, she was a lab manager while conducting field and lab work researching zebra mussels, an invasive species in Lake Erie. Most recently, she worked with OSU identifying, analyzing and quantifying Microcystis (harmful blue-green algae) levels in Lake Erie. Prior to moving to Wilmington, Angie spent most of her time raising her two children and just sent her youngest to college last year. She volunteers two days a week in the children’s section of the NW library and loves being an ambassador with the federation. When not volunteering, she can be found walking on the beach, kayaking, paddle boarding, SCUBA diving and exploring the area. She loves living on the coast and is thrilled she doesn’t have to face another winter with snow.
Dennis retired as an Environmental Specialist from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and moved to Brunswick County with his wife, JoAnn, from the Raleigh area in 2015. Dennis became active with the Federation soon thereafter by volunteering at various educational and outreach events. Dennis was a member of the Federation’s Southeast Advisory Committee from 2019 – 2022.
Suzanne believe everyone should celebrate our interconnectedness with the natural world and is dedicated to serving the community, preserving and advocating for our environment. As a UNCW Randall Library staff member, she recognizes and values the importance of an educated and informed community – connecting people to knowledge and involvement. Having lived many years as a coastal resident and ocean enthusiast, she looks forward to helping the NC Coastal Federation grow, maintain and support our coastal waters and economy, and appreciate the opportunity – through outreach and engagement – to help safeguard our coasts for future generations.
Jan Farmer resides in Surf City on Topsail Island and graduated from the University of North Carolina with a degree in Environmental Studies and a concentration in Political Science. Jan worked in the laboratory supply business for more than a decade before becoming a stay at home mom and full-time volunteer. She has a specific interest in coastal environmental policy with an eye toward problem solving and prevention and is also am very interested in marine debris prevention and removal. Jan has been a Coastal Ambassador for four years and on the Southeast Advisory Board since the spring of 2019. Jan helps tremendously with all aspects of the federation working on advocacy projects, educating the community at outreach events and working diligently out in the field during restoration projects. Jan enjoys her free time paddle boarding, reading, gardening and walking on the beach.
In 2019, Jan was the Coastal Ambassador of the Year.
Kate Fuller has always harbored a deep love for all things environmental. Her upbringing alongside a veterinarian in Florida exposed her to a multitude of wild animals in need of rehabilitation and release. Witnessing the immediate positive impact of giving these animals a second chance in their natural habitats instilled in her a profound understanding of the consequences of human actions on their homes, often leading to their arrival in human care. Driven by a desire to effect change, Kate believed that becoming a scientist was her path to addressing these pressing issues. She diligently pursued her academic journey, earning both a B.S. in Environmental Science and an M.S. in Chemical Oceanography. Her fieldwork took her waist-deep into muck and brought her face to face with alligators. Her research contributions were recognized with publications in Frontiers, and she had the privilege of presenting her findings at several professional meetings. Yet, despite her accomplishments, she felt a yearning for a more direct positive impact.
In 2020, Kate made the transition to the captivating coastal region of Wilmington, NC. Her original intent was to pursue a PhD with UNCW, but the pandemic had other plans in store. This unexpected pause in her academic journey, however, provided Kate with invaluable time to delve deeper into her passions and chart her course. In the fall of 2023, she embarked on a second Master’s program, this time in Marine and Coastal Ocean Policy. Equipped with a strong foundation in the natural sciences, Kate aspired to become a bridge between the realms of policy and science.
Kate says, “A large thanks to the NC Coastal Federation for opening my eyes to this field and allowing me to volunteer with them to see the great work they do and many positive changes they have helped implement to preserve and protect our beautiful coast. I’m so honored to be an ambassador, to help be a part of their great mission all the while, growing my own education and understanding of how to better bridge science and policy.”
Shari began volunteering for the Federation back in the spring of last year. Shari grew up in western Pennsylvania and moved to Martinsville, Virginia to teach biology. She became a life-long Girl Scout, an EMT and now is an Ambassador with the NC Coastal Federation. Shari says, “Service is a way of life for me and working to improve the coastal environment is just one more way I can contribute to making this a better world while spending time with my family.”
Mike and Maureen Grotle
After monitoring the living shoreline located at Carolina Beach State Park in October of 2019, this husband and wife duo felt compelled to get more involved and became official southeast coastal ambassadors. Mike and Maureen love being by the water and frequently lend a hand volunteering at restoration events like our marine debris cleanups at Morris Landing Clean Water Preserve.
Roxann Lawson became a coastal ambassador in 2019 after joining the program with daughter, Angie Crowe. Roxann has participated in numerous volunteer restoration events this year from marine debris cleanups, rain garden maintenance events, Work on Wilmington, to living shoreline monitoring events and so much more.
Edmund “Beau” McCaffray
Edmund “Beau” McCaffray is a longtime volunteer and friend of the federation. Before Beau retired from the New Hanover County Schools, his second favorite job was developing vegetation and fuel model maps for both Cape Hatteras and Lookout National Seashores a long time ago. He and his wife, Sue, have lived on Pages Creek for the past 25 years and look forward to the day when the creek is once again open to shellfishing.
Janice retired from the State of Delaware in July 2015 as an educator. She worked part-time for the University of Delaware during the 2015-2016 school year providing mathematics professional development for elementary school teachers in Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Janice moved to Leland NC in the fall of 2016. Her volunteer activities currently include Airlie Gardens, Coastal Federation, Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project, and the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (also known as the Sea Turtle Hospital).
She has worked as a volunteer with the Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project since the summer of 2017. She participates in beach monitoring, nest sitting activities, stranding team and working the booth at community events such as Earth Day and the Wrightsville Flotilla Festival. She joined their board in the fall of 2018 and currently works with a team to provide “turtle talks” in many different environments that include camps, school events community events and Tuesday Night Turtle Talks in the summer at the Federation’s Wrightsville Beach Coastal Education Center.
Following a career as an attorney, judge and Senate confirmed Presidential appointee, Jessica Parks moved to Wilmington from the Washington, DC area, ready for new challenges. She values the coast and marshes of North Carolina, and enjoys being outdoors, staying active, gardening, hiking, fishing, and supporting efforts to combat climate change. Her family will vouch for her unrelenting focus on reducing consumption and re-using, repurposing, composting, donating and recycling anything possible. Jessica looks forward to getting immersed in projects for the Coastal Federation, with an emphasis on marsh restoration, oyster habitats, living shorelines, shell recycling and keeping our beaches and waterways clean.
I’m originally from Martinsville, VA, but I fell in love with the quiet and resilience of salt marshes and the North Carolina coast while earning my BS in Marine Biology with a minor in Oceanography from UNCW.
Went to work as a NOAA Fisheries Observer in the Bering Sea and North Pacific where I worked alongside an amazing and varied group of commercial fishermen and learned the great value of ecological knowledge that exists outside of scientific publications, and how good management helps to preserve livelihoods.
For a change of pace, and to enjoy a warmer climate, I moved to southeastern China and worked as an ESL teacher for a few years before deciding to pursue my Masters.
I earned my masters in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, in 2016, from the EMBC+ program, coordinated by the University of Ghent, in Belgium. During this time, I cultivated a very global perspective of marine issues, and focused on coastal processes and blue carbon, with my thesis work in mangroves in Queensland, Australia.
I returned to southeastern NC in the spring of 2022 and am thrilled to be able lend my coastal knowledge, drive to get things done, and muddy boots to the NCCF. I’m here to help protect the NC coast and to teach my young son (aka sidekick and ecologist-in-training) the value of putting his time into worthwhile causes.
A Topsail Island resident along with her husband and daughter, Ann Stewart is a retired Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State who got to the coast as quickly as she could after retiring from full-time service. After overseas postings in China, Costa Rica, Colombia and Haiti, she spent ten of her last 12 years as a Foreign Service officer advancing U.S. environmental, science, technology, and health priorities at the multilateral, regional and bilateral levels. Some of her most rewarding projects included preparations by the U.S. for the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, creation of an Afghan Conservation Corps, successfully including the establishment of a border peace park in Peru-Ecuador peace negotiations, and coordinating U.S. assistance to develop an early warning system following the 2004 devastating Indonesian earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Although retired, Ann still coordinates a biannual Environment, Science, Technology and Health (ESTH) Tradecraft course at the Foreign Service Institute for officers slated to cover that broad portfolio in their overseas and domestic assignments, and in 2022 developed a similar program for the Department’s newly-created Climate Officers.
After moving to North Carolina in 2006, she became involved in efforts to halt the construction of the Titan Cement Plant along Island Creek, and it was during that time she came to know the Coastal Federation and its efforts to protect the unique and vital resources of the region. Although temporarily absent from 2014-2019 while her family took to the road in their RV to see America, visiting 39 states, homeschooling, and settling for a time in Austin where their daughter finished high school, they returned to Surf City beach life and she continues pursuing her passions of the equestrian sport of dressage and of course local environmental advocacy projects, including as a member once again of the North Carolina Coastal Federation.
Sharlyn grew up in Southern California, her childhood spent primarily outdoors. She received a Bachelor’s Degree from California State University at Channel Islands. Her love of nature blossomed when she followed her husband to North Carolina and experienced the estuaries and salt marshes of Coastal North Carolina. These days, she is focused on preserving that beauty and wonder for the next generation. She believes that the way forward for conservation is through educating youth and embracing their curiosity about the world around them. Sharlyn implements this through homeschooling her son; emphasizing conservation, connection with the natural world, and fostering a willingness to give back. When she’s not at Coastal Federation events with her son in tow, she’s joyfully spending time boating, fishing, gardening, bird watching, and fostering kittens for the local animal shelter.
Anne Terry resident of Carolina Beach and a long-standing coastal ambassador for the federation first became involved with the federation in 2014. In 2018 she received the Pelican Award for Remarkable Volunteer Contributions to Our Coast. Anne has participated in almost all of our restoration and outreach events in 2019. Anne is a pillar within our community. Not only does she dedicate countless hours to the federation, but she also volunteers with Airlie Gardens, Cape Fear River Watch and so much more.
Ken Vogt served a 44-year professional career in the planning, design, construction, startup, operation and maintenance of water and wastewater systems. Ken received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Recently retired from the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, Ken remains locally involved in the Lower Cape Fear River Program and the Cape Fear River Assembly and currently serving a three year term as the North Carolina American Water Works Association Water Environment Association (NC AWWA WEA) Delegate to the national Water Environment Federation (WEF). Ken was also a volunteer emergency medical technician 42 years, most recently retiring from the Leland Fire Rescue Department and has previously served upon the Evesham (NJ) Environmental Commission, Evesham Municipal Utilities Authority and the Evesham Township representative upon the Southwest Branch Rancocas Creek Drainage Basin Committee. Ken enjoys sailing, kayaking, basketball, tennis, chess, bridge and volunteering with the federation and the Cape Fear Museum. Ken is a founding member of the Sun Coast Cruisers classic car club and restored his 1966 bright purple metallic Chevelle Malibu sport coupe. Ken has been married over 46 years to his wonderful spouse Joanne and is a proud father of four exceptional sons and 12 amazing grandchildren.
Sue moved to Wilmington in 2016, after selling her restaurant and bar in Pennsylvania. Her love of the ocean and research brought her to the Coastal Federation as a volunteer. Sue says, “ I look forward to many years, as an ambassador, to environmentally make a difference with such a friendly and caring community of like-minded people.”