Between the seashells, wooden ships and sea animal photos splashed about Marie Scoggins’ office, it’s easy to see why she says she enjoys her job at the Marine Extension Service.
When she was growing up in Elbert County, Scoggins and her family took regular trips to the beaches in Florida and Georgia.
“I always loved the beach,” Scoggins said. “I remember when I was real young, we went to Tybee Island and there’s a picture we have from that trip.”
While Scoggins’ love for the tides began way before her days at UGA, her job as an administrative manager in MAREX has allowed her to explore the ocean like never before.
MAREX, a unit of the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, focuses on education, research and outreach for the coastal and marine areas. The Marine Education Center and Aquarium and Shellfish Research Laboratory are located on Skidaway Island in Savannah. The Advisory Services unit is located in Brunswick, as well as a one-person office in Peachtree City.
“We are a small unit, so we don’t have that many administrative staff,” Scoggins said. “That means any paperwork, anything that happens, flows up through this office.”
Scoggins, who is one of a handful of MAREX members in Athens, handles all administrative and financial responsibilities for the unit. That includes preparing and managing budgets-state, federal and private-reporting performance measures, purchasing items, taking inventory, creating financial reports and much more.
“It’s a variety of things,” Scoggins said. “You’ve got to be organized and keep everything in a neat stack as you just keep trudging through it.”
Scoggins started at MAREX in 1990 after five years of doing accounting work for the chemistry department. She received her bachelor’s in management information systems from Georgia Southern University prior to working at UGA.
During her 28 years, Scoggins has seen a lot of change and a lot of interesting research being conducted on the coast.
“I really like the public service outreach part of the Marine Extension because our folks take the applied research out to the people in the ‘real world,’ ” she said. “So a lot of the time, I see the benefits instantly or much quicker.”
Scoggins also likes to help people in the “real world.” Every Sunday night she travels to a North Georgia county to serve as a jail minister. She goes with another member of her church, Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Bowman. They go to the women’s side of the jail and spread the word of the Bible.
“We go in to tell the hopeless that there is hope,” Scoggins said. “There’s a lot of them in there who need hope, and we tell them that Jesus is their only hope.”
Scoggins said the weekly volunteering is just as much a benefit to her as it is to those in jail.
“When I’m preparing the devotions, sometimes I read something and I’m like ‘I really needed to hear that right now,’ “she said.
Scoggins also travels a lot with her family. Between trips to Washington, D.C., and Jekyll Island-her favorite beach in Georgia-Scoggins has spent many hours on the road.
“Ever since I was young, we would go places,” she said. “Dad worked on a pipeline and would be gone weeks at a time, so Mama would load us up and we’d go to Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina-wherever he was, we’d take off and go.”
As part of her job at MAREX, Scoggins also gets to travel to the coastal area about once every other month.
“When I get to go to the coast, it makes the paperwork pushing worthwhile,” she said. “I’ve always said our coastal folks should always be the happiest people ever since it’s just so beautiful no matter where you are out there.”