She's our Best - Volunteer of the Year
Monday, March 31, 2014

Kiley Best accepting her award from Dr. Gary Kachanoski at the Student Volunteer Bureau’s 28th annual MUN Volunteer Day Awards Event. Photo Credit: Andrew DeRoche

The Marine Institute’s very own fisheries technologist, Kiley Best was recently named Memorial’s 2014 Staff Volunteer of the Year for her dedication to mentoring students and the public about ocean science.

Her passion is reflected through her work at MI’s Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research (CFER) and volunteerism at the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium. For Best, her drive comes from wanting to promote careers and interest in marine biology and to eliminate negativity towards fisheries.

For the past 18 months, Best has volunteered as a member of the Board of Directors and secretary for the mini aquarium. She was instrumental in the aquarium’s opening and supported it through its successful inaugural season in several ways such as preparation of the tanks, fundraising and recruiting.

Coupled with her position at MI, Best is also pursuing her Master’s degree in in aquaculture part-time at Memorial University.  Despite her work and educational commitments, Best manages to make volunteering and outreach a key priority within the university and community.

“It is rewarding to inspire future ocean scientists. I enjoy engaging children and parents who are interested in ocean creatures to help them understand the importance of taking care of our ecosystem,” said Best. “I consider the volunteer work I do to be an extension of my passions through which I can show how fulfilling it is to accomplish lifelong goals and help others reach theirs.”

Supporting community comes naturally to Best, who also volunteers with the Newfoundland and Labrador Aquatic Invasive Species Committee.

Her work with aquatic invasive species began with the discovery of green crab in Newfoundland waters during her graduate research. Her efforts with the NL Aquatic Invasive Species Committee, Placentia Bay Integrated Management Committee and DFO have helped in the monitoring and prevention of the spread of this species and other potential invaders.

Best has carried her passion for educating others on aquatic invasive species into CFER. During her time with MI she has been influential in educating youth at the institute’s annual Holyrood Marine Base Open House event and the annual World Oceans Day exhibition held at MI. Best also plays a significant role in mentoring students by participating in high school recruitment seminars, MI Ocean Net youth conferences, judging at the 2014 Newfoundland and Labrador Regional Science Fair and acting as a project mentor for a high school science fair since 2012.

“When opportunities and needs arise for extra volunteer research assistants, outreach and public engagement beyond the scope of our work, she is quick to take the lead and recruit others,” explained Susan Fudge, fisheries biologist, CFER. “ Best often spends hours beyond regular working days volunteering in the field, drafting proposals for science outreach activities and funding, mentoring, science fair judging, assisting graduate students and job shadowing … to name a few.”

Aside from work and the university, Best also volunteers within the community. She uses her background in competitive swimming to coach for the Mount Pearl Marlins Swim team and organizing events such as the Swim for Hope relay fundraiser for the Cancer Society. In her spare time, Best also volunteers at the St. John’s Farmers Market, among other community events.

Through her undertakings, Best has raised awareness about Memorial’s ocean and fisheries research, MI’s research and industry collaborators as well as general resource sustainability. Her volunteer outreach work for science and ocean awareness reflects an ongoing and outstanding commitment to education and promotion of higher learning.