A UF Sea Grant extension agent position will be divided between the two counties, focusing on nature-based recreation and economic development.
There are plenty of perks to being by the ocean — the fishing, the surfing, the view — and Flagler County is embarking on a partnership designed to make the most of them.
The county is partnering with the University of Florida and the Volusia County government to support a local Sea Grant agent through the university's Extension Services.
UF will pay 60% of the costs associated with the position, while the two counties will both pay 20% each — which comes out to $17,031 per county for 2022.
The agent, who will divide his or her time between the two counties, will develop local marine and coastal resource education programs for the public and support environmental sustainability.
The focus will be on nature-based recreation, economic development and tourism, including coastal resiliency, water quality, invasive coastal and marine species, fisheries and fishing and protected marine species, according to a Flagler County staff document.
The position isn't new, exactly: There's been an extension agent before, but the position was paid fully by UF, and the agent was initially spread across Flagler, St. Johns, Duval and Nassau counties, then divided between Flagler and St. Johns. When it came time to renew the position, St. Johns no longer wanted to participate, a Flagler County staff member said during a Feb. 15 Flagler County Commission meeting.
But Volusia was interested.
County Commissioner Donald O'Brien was in favor of the agreement, but noted that Flagler will be paying as much as Volusia, and the services should therefore be split equally.
"Oftentimes when we get involved in in these joint activities with our county to the south, they end up getting the lion’s share of the effort or work because of the fact that they’re four times the population," he said.
The staff member said the the position will be divided 50-50 between the two counties, and the agent will have offices in both.
The County Commission approved the agreement unanimously.