March 14, 2012
ANGLETON — John O’Connell has been named Brazoria County coastal and marine resources agent, a joint position of the Texas Sea Grant College Program and Texas AgriLife Extension Service.
O’Connell, who has been Matagorda County coastal and marine resources agent for the past nine years, will begin his new job on April 2.
He will work on many of the same coastal concerns he faced in Matagorda County, but the issues are magnified by the nearly eight-fold population difference between the two counties, O’Connell noted.
“Moving from a county with 40,000 people to one with 300,000 people offers many interesting challenges for me,” said O’Connell. “The main challenges relate to the sheer number of people and the pressure they put on coastal resources. We deal with issues like water quality, sustainable development, fisheries and coastal hazards on a daily basis, but the way in which we address them takes on added complexity when so many people are involved.”
O’Connell, a native of San Antonio, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in wildlife and fisheries sciences from Texas A&M University. He began his career as an assistant county Extension agent for 4-H and marine resources in Louisiana in 1994. He returned to Texas in 1996 as Calhoun County marine agent, a position he held until moving to Matagorda County in 2003.
During his career, O’Connell has worked in the areas of aquaculture, recreational and commercial fisheries, nature tourism, community needs assessment, marine education and leadership training. He created and leads Texas Sea Grant’s Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program — a statewide effort to remove discarded fishing line from the environment, where it poses a threat to aquatic life.
O’Connell also has worked extensively with Matagorda County’s Master Naturalists, which he plans to continue in his new position.