Jason Stromsland graduated from Gillespie High School (GHS) in 2014, earning a Matt and Marge Turcol Memorial Scholarship from The Partnership for Educational Excellence. He used the $500 award toward tuition at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Jason is in his senior year at Eckerd, majoring in marine science with a biology focus. Jason’s primary interest is shark conservation research.
As part of his Eckerd experience, Jason spent his 2016 “winter break” on a three-week class in the Galapagos Islands and the Ecuadoran rainforest. Highlights were swimming with white-tipped sharks, being stung by a man-o-war, and being surrounded by a herd of peccaries in the rainforest. During spring break in 2016 he was accepted as a volunteer researcher at the Bimini Shark Lab where he helped capture, evaluate, and tag various species of sharks. In January 2017, Jason spent three weeks in Cuba at the University of Havana’s Isle of Youth where he worked on coral reef population and health. He also helped with removal and dissection of lion fish, a destructive invasive species in Caribbean waters.
“Being a marine biology student, I have learned the importance of educating those around me with scientifically proven facts rather than misleading people with ‘alternative facts’,” he says. “Honesty was a value I learned to respect at GHS. It’s a value that has been reaffirmed ever since.”
Back on campus Jason has spent the last three summers teaching wakeboarding and basic-to-advanced saltwater fishing skills at Eckerd’s Summer Youth Camp.
In his spare time Jason has earned his deep sea SCUBA rating and enjoys spear fishing, shark conservation outreach, and fossil diving. He has participated in the annual St. Petersburg Triathlon and a number of half-triathlons. Currently he is also enjoying volunteer work at a private sanctuary, caring for retired circus animals.
After graduation Jason is considering grad school or a career with the U.S. Coast Guard.
His Partnership scholarship “was a big help,” says Jason. “I was the second child to graduate from GHS in two years; that meant that my parents were attempting to pay for two college students at one time.”
Jason is the son of Peter and Susan Stromsland of Gillespie.