Staff Q&A: Sharon Mann

Title: Invasive Aquatics Program Director.

Staff member since: May 2018.


Education: Associate of Science, Southern Maine Community College; bachelor’s degree and master’s studies in biology, University of Southern Maine (transferred into PhD program); doctorate in ecology and environmental science (projected May 2024).


Previous work experience: Sous chef, commercial and charter fishing boat deckhand in Alaska, microbiology laboratory manager and teaching assistant at USM.


What are the responsibilities of your role? Oversee these programs:

  • Courtesy Boat Inspections: hiring, scheduling, training, data entry, ordering, grant writing, organizing with lake associations.

  • Invasive Aquatic Plant (IAP) Remediation: same duties as above plus map development, research, crafting management plan, influencing legislation.

  • IAP Education & Adopt-A-Shoreline: developing trainings, data management, volunteer recruitment, organizing group paddles, survey, plant ID.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job? Improving conditions for wildlife and having dockside encounters with people on the lakes. What’s the most challenging facet of what you do? Explaining the importance of continuous maintenance – there are no silver bullets. Like it or not, we are stuck with invasives and will likely get more. This is a tough sell for people, so I must keep it positive and have an optimistic (but realistic) approach.


What about your job might surprise others? My job is year-round, and I am not a college intern. What is the one best practice for preventing the spread of invasive aquatic plants? Follow the mantra of “Clean, Drain and Dry.” While cleaning, draining and leaving your boat to dry for a few days may seem excessive, it is worth the slight inconvenience considering the serious implications invasive aquatic organisms have on the health of the ecosystem and the huge financial burden. Our remediation efforts to manage invasive milfoil in Great Meadow Stream has been a 12-year effort costing more than $1.5 million to remove and survey for the plants (not including the CBI program’s cost). The best practice to stop the spread is to remove all plants from fishing gear and boat equipment.

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