From St. John to Sacramento

Senior Tucker Stone brings reef research to California:

Sara Novenstern / Castleton Spartan

Senior Tucker Stone stands near his poster at the Western Society of Naturalists conference in Sacramento California.

Tucker Stone reeled out the tape measure while snorkeling several feet under water to help determine the health of coral reefs in southeastern part of the island of St. John.

“I saw a small school of fish swim by me so I looked out toward the deeper part and saw like a five- or six-foot-long a reef shark. It was just a few yards away,” he said.

That was this past summer.  

Just last week, he was presenting his findings to scholars at Western Society of Naturalists conference in Sacramento, Calif.

“I was confident and anxious to tell everyone what I did, what I found and what I will continue to do,” Stone said in a recent interview.

Stone was introduced to the Reef Check course through a chance meeting with biology professor Cynthia Moulton.

“If I had never met Cynthia in that hallway on my way to or out of class, I never would have gone there,” he said.

It was that chance that led him to take part in the Reef Check trip to St. John. That was also when Stone was asked to come back that summer of 2015 by Randy Brown, the manager at the Virgin Islands Environmental Resource Station.

The island gave him more than he could’ve hoped for.

Stone then reached out and introduced himself to Peter Edmans, a professor at California State University. While he was doing volunteer work as a camp counselor, and doing research at the same time – he got invited to the conference.

His mother, Virginia Stone, spoke about her sons’s amazing opportunity.

“It’s crazy how fate puts its hand out like that,” she said, adding that she was so excited for his opportunity.

At the conference, Stone brought his poster full of data, studies and conclusions to present among more than 100 other researchers and at least another 100 observers.  

“I felt proud to be representing Castleton across the country where no one has really heard of us. Presenting my research only increased my desire to continue with it,” Stone said.

When told of Stone’s effort, Castleton President Dave Wolk praised him.

“I am pleased that Tucker served as our ambassador, traveling to California on behalf of Castleton University,” Wolk said in an emailed response. “Research comes alive when you can share it with others, and I’m impressed that Tucker did so across the country.”

Stating that he had never conducted his own research before, Stone also went on to describe how surreal it was going under those waters for the first time to undertake his studies.

“It’s totally out of your element,” he said.

Sara Novenstern / Castleton Spartan

Senior Tucker Stone dives down to check out the sea floor, taken with a Gopro.


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