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Meet MERR's newest team members

Suzanne Thurman

After a long and exhaustive search for one more person to join our team, we were lucky enough to find Jess. A graduate of the State University of New York, Jess earned her degree in Conservation Biology, and brings her experience working in the veterinary, aquarium and zoo fields with her, providing much needed expertise in these areas. Jess also brings a background in research, along with many other skills, and has already proven herself to be a valuable part of our team. Jess hails from upstate New York, so she’s trying to get used to our hot and humid summers, but she does great out there with our seals on bitter cold winter days! As seems to be a prerequisite with this job, Jess is also an animal lover, and provides loving care for her 2 rescue dogs, and her foster cats. 

Jess was instrumental in transporting 3 sea turtles coming down from New York and Connecticut for release in Delaware, and had the amazing experience of helping with their release. She is proving herself to be a great organizer and did a terrific job helping to program our interns during the spring, summer and fall of 2023. She will also be taking on some research projects in the coming year if our seals don’t keep her too busy. 

We are so happy to have expanded our team, and to have found two such wonderful young women to help us achieve our goals of marine mammal and sea turtle conservation. We look forward to watching them grow in their careers, and to all of the contributions they are making to MERR. 

Please join us in welcoming two new members to our team! Zeal Goolesby joined our staff in late 2022, serving as a part time stranding technician and a part time education specialist. Jessica Meyer joined us in early March of 2023, and serves as our full-time stranding technician. MERR has long been in need of additional staff, and thanks to funding received through the John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant through NOAA, and a grant through Merck for our education programs, we were at long last able to fund these additional staffing positions. 

Zeal is a recent graduate from the University of Delaware, where she earned her BS degree in Marine Science with a concentration in Marine Biology. Zeal is a familiar face to many because she has served in a volunteer capacity for MERR for two years prior to being hired, and fulfilled a summer internship with us during 2022. Zeal’s name fits her perfectly! She brings an infectious enthusiasm and zest for learning to everything she does. She is a true animal lover, and we are so thrilled to have been able to provide her with her first job in her professional field. Zeal has been learning many things about being a stranding technician in the past year, but she also has a natural capacity for educating children and brings her same enthusiasm to teaching them about the wonders of marine animals. 

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