Christian Miller has been working in extension/outreach activities since 2004, first in Florida, and then in south Alabama. Christian joined the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium outreach team as an extension specialist in 2009. He works out of the Auburn University Marine Extension and Research Center in Mobile, Alabama, and his work focuses on nonpoint source pollution. He serves as the Alabama- Mississippi Clean Marina Program coordinator and the Coastal Alabama Clean Water Partnership facilitator. Along with all of this great work, he found time to become an AWW trainer too! Since becoming certified as an AWW trainer in 2014, Christian has coordinated numerous trainings along Alabama’s beautiful Gulf Coast.
Dixie Bar Redfish
Let’s get to know Christian a bit better:
1. Where do you call home?
I live in Mobile, AL. I work as an Extension Specialist with the Auburn University Marine Extension & Research Center in partnership with Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, and the Alabama Clean Water Partnership. I’ve lived in lots of places, but I’ve always been drawn to the Gulf Coast, and the Mobile area in particular. Our proximity to the water and all of the unique cultural experiences and natural resources we have at our fingertips make this a great place to call home.
2. What stream, river, lake, bay, bayou is your favorite water-spot?
Alabama is blessed with so many unique waterways it’s impossible to name just one. I’ve had the opportunity to fish/boat/wade a lot of our coastal streams, rivers, bays, and bayous. The Tensaw River Delta is a pretty special place. I’ve also greatly enjoyed time spent on the waters of Three Mile Creek, Halls Mill Creek, Bayou Sara, Fowl River, Wolf Bay, Little Lagoon, and Mobile Bay. Also, growing up in Talladega, I’ve got a lot of special memories of times spent on waterways in northern reaches of the State including: Little River Canyon, Lake Logan Martin, and many of the unnamed tribs that snake through the Talladega National Forest. If left with just one, I’d have to go with my favorite fishing spots which lie along Dixey Bar on the Gulf-fronting side of Fort Morgan at the mouth of Mobile Bay.
Mobile-Tensaw River Delta
3. What water recreation/sports do you enjoy most?
Fishing, Kayaking, boating, pretty much anything that involves being out on the water. Some of my earliest memories are fishing with my grandfather on the Peace River in southwest Florida. Those earliest memories of time spent on the water are what pushed me into the sciences, and more specifically natural resource management, as a career.
Bayou La Batre
4. What got you interested in Alabama Water Watch?
My introduction to Alabama Water Watch came during my undergraduate Ecology course at Jacksonville State University. My professor, Dr. Frank Romano, trained all his students in the water chemistry and benthic macroinvertebrate methods in several tribs to Tallasseehatche Creek that flow through the Jacksonville area. Currently, in coastal Alabama we’ve been working with local watershed groups, including the Wolf Bay Watershed Watch and Dog River Clear Water Revival, to boost the numbers of active volunteer water quality monitors across both Mobile and Baldwin counties. As we continue to develop and implement watershed management plans, it is critical to engage local citizens in efforts to monitor the success of coastal restoration efforts through programs like AWW.
AWW water chemistry training at Bayfront Park on Mobile Bay in Daphne, AL
5. What are your biggest challenges/issues in your favorite watershed?
I live in the Dog River Watershed which drains over 50,000 acres, much of which are urbanized areas of the City of Mobile. As you would expect, most of Dog River and its tributaries are experiencing issues associated with excess stormwater runoff. There are multiple segments throughout the Watershed impaired for low dissolved oxygen, pathogenic bacteria, and sedimentation. Litter is also a major issue, and impacts all of our coastal waterways. A host of local partners are united in efforts to raise awareness of stormwater pollution through the Create a Clean Water Future campaign (http://www.cleanwaterfuture.com).
Tensaw River looking toward downtown Mobile
6. Do you have some ‘lessons learned’ that you could pass on to the rest of us relative to watershed stewardship?
Stay engaged and involved. We have been using citizen water quality monitoring as a means to engage coastal stakeholders in implementing actions to improve water quality and natural resources through our watershed plans. Citizens like to know that what they are doing, through collecting and reporting water quality data, is making a difference.
Christian having a good day on Lake Logan Martin