Who is Brianna Gullotta?
Hello! My name is Brianna, and I am the new full-time Naturalist at MOSH. I moved to Florida two years ago to pursue my Masters in Marine Science. I grew up in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania and lived there up until 2019. While in Pennsylvania, I acquired an associate’s degree in environmental science from Northampton Community College, a bachelor’s degree in marine science, and a minor in geography. Aside from school, my hobbies include scuba diving, working out, reading, and spending time with my fiance and two rabbits!
What drew you to MOSH?
Being someone who truly wanted to expand her career as a marine scientist, I knew that MOSH would help me achieve my goal. I have a vast education in animal husbandry, so I knew this was the perfect place for me to work.The Florida Naturalist’s Center team has provided nothing but support and encouragement as I advance my career as a Naturalist. MOSH provides the perfect mix of education, science, and innovation. Although I just started working here, I feel like I’ve been here for a while!
What is your role as a Naturalist in the Museum?
A Naturalist is a biologist who studies all living organisms on the planet. As a Naturalist, my job is to provide animal care for our entire Living Collection. One of the most important tasks of my role is knowing how to provide care for mammals, reptiles, fish, and plants. Currently we care for endangered species that can primarily be found in Florida, and our goal is to educate the public about conserving the common species in Florida. I am also challenged with developing new educational programs for our quest. Our mission is to enhance the guest experience while also educating the public about how so many of our animals are critical for the stability of Florida’s ecosystems.
Why is it important to educate visitors about Florida’s natural environment?
While there are many reasons as to why the environment is important, for me, it’s important to teach visitors about both the animals and environment because of the amount of habitat loss currently happening right here in Jacksonville. As more people are drawn to moving to Florida, Jacksonville has quickly become an extremely urbanized area. My teaching goal is to help community citizens understand what they can do in their own homes to provide a healthy garden for common species. I also enjoy educating guests why certain flowers and plants should be left alone and not picked. Each life here in Florida counts, so we need to make sure the public is aware of what helps and what hurts the environment!
If you were an animal or a plant, what would you be and why?
Since my love for manatees runs deep, I would definitely want to be a manatee! To live in shallow waters and live a calm life grazing on grasses sounds beautiful. There are many areas where manatees live that humans are not allowed to explore. Also, since scuba diving is one of my passions, this would be the perfect type of animal to be. Now if I were a plant, I would be a sunflower. Sunflowers are bright and happy flowers and really speak to my personality. I am bright, bubbly, and love the sun, and we all know sunflowers lean toward the sun! So, a manatee and sunflower it is.
What are you looking forward to in the new Museum?
For me it is the fact that the new Museum is right on the river. I know I will have plenty of opportunities to utilize my education as a marine scientist to implement projects along the St. Johns River. I am looking forward to running habitat restoration along the river and hopefully working in gardens at the new Museum. I love the idea of the gardens being all natural and seeing the amount of wildlife that comes back to Jacksonville. It’s all very inspiring, and I am so excited to put my skills to use!
Who inspired your passion to protect the natural world?
I wish I could say that it was a famous scientist, but for me it started with my Grandfather Javier Adrienzen. My grandfather taught me how to garden from a young age. We would spend hours in his garden just going over different plants and animals. He even taught me to not be afraid of insects because they help with the environment. My biggest inspiration is my mother, who never once exhibited a mean side to any form of life. It grew from there. Growing up I also lived by Boosters Beach in Whitestone, NYC. My mother always took me to the beach and would teach me all about the animals in the area. As I grew up and started going to school, I knew I wanted to be in the science field. It wasn’t until I met Dr. James Hunt, my advisor for marine science at East Stroudsburg University, that I truly dove into my passion. Dr. Hunt provided nothing but support for me to reach my goal. He would assign me special projects and test my limits to see just how much I could do. He truly was like Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid. It was an amazing bond that I formed, and to this day I still keep Dr. Hunt up to date on all my education and career advancements.
Any super powers?
My super power is cooking and always being there for my friends and coworkers. When it comes to my cooking, I am the friend that everyone comes to for dinner parties. My favorite dessert to bake are my homemade cupcakes. I love, love, love, spending hours on end just baking and decorating cupcakes. If there is ever a special event, I always have friends asking me to make the cupcakes.
Today is Earth day. What can we do to celebrate our planet?
Because of its size, Jacksonville tends to have a pollution issue especially along the highways where mangrove trees can grow. I would suggest our community participate in local cleanups. Planting native species in your garden or yard is another way to celebrate our Earth!