At 22 years old, recent ocean engineering graduate Stephen Hammond ’19 was selected from a pool of over 30 applicants to be St. Johns County’s beach management expert, overseeing the beach restoration projects along its coastline.
As coastal environment project manager, Stephen is in charge of multiple county projects, particularly those along the coastline and beaches.
“I plan, budget and document the projects while managing the consultants we hire to assist with the projects.” Stephen says. “Another big part of this job as a public servant is communicating with the public and making sure they know what we are doing for their county.”
For these adept public-speaking skills he has found to be crucial in the new role, Stephen credits his college leadership positions, such as Florida Tech ambassador and tour guide, Surf Club vice president and team captain, Newman Club president and Residence Life resident assistant.
So far, he has not found the great responsibility to be too daunting. He has a wonderful relationship with his boss, the administrative manager, who is acting as his mentor, guiding him along the way.
As a Melbourne native and an avid surfer, Stephen can more often than not be found at the beach.
“I always found time to go to the beach,” he says. “To be honest, I probably spent a little too much time there.”
Ocean engineering at Florida Tech was an ideal fit for Stephen, as it allowed for a crossover between his education and his passion.
“One of the memories I will take with me is that my last final exam was actually held at the beach. This was for Dr. Weaver’s Surf Engineering Analysis class, where we would record data while surfing then analyze it later in the classroom. So, my parting memory from Florida Tech will forever be a morning spent surfing and collecting data for my final exam.”
Stephen and his team are currently working on six projects, most of which are still in the design and permitting phases. However, his U. S. Army Corps of Engineers beach renourishment project is set to begin construction in early 2020. The main goal of this project is to restore the beaches of South Ponte Vedra and Vilano to how they were in 2015, prior to hurricanes Matthew and Irma. The project will also add a 60-foot berm extension, a fortification line preventing the dunes from being washed away, in the hopes the restorations will hold up against future storms.
“The dunes will be planted with native vegetation, like sea oats, which will help strengthen the dune and help withstand erosion from strong storms.”
Stephen is the fifth Hammond to have graduated from Florida Tech, following both his parents and siblings. From growing up to now working on Florida’s beaches, Stephen has the drive and the potential to really make a difference.