Imani is an African American oyster farmer building a career in the rapidly growing aquaculture industry. She was born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and her love for conservation and restoration on the Chesapeake Bay started at a young age. Imani comes from a long family history of watermen from Rock Hall, Crisfield and Cambridge, MD that dates back over 200 years.
Imani attended Old Dominion University and graduated with a marine biology degree and was a Division 1 student athlete in lacrosse.
During college, Imani interned for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s VA Oyster Restoration Team which started her journey into oyster restoration and shellfish aquaculture. Following graduation, Imani was selected to participate in the VIMS’ Aquaculture Genetics & Breeding Technology Center’s (ABC), Oyster Aquaculture Training (OAT) program which targets those pursuing careers in all aspects of oyster aquaculture, from hatchery operations to grow-out and processing.
Imani continued to work for oyster companies in VA and MD. For the last 2 years, Imani has served at the first privately-owned hatchery in Maryland as a lead Hatchery Technician and Assistant Manager. Imani’s passion for the aquaculture industry lead her to launch “Minorities In Aquaculture” (MIA). Through MIA, Imani seeks to promote the benefits and sustainability of aquaculture, both in the Chesapeake Bay and worldwide. By sharing her experiences, she works to educate and encourage minorities to pursue a career in all aspects of aquaculture.
Currently, Imani continues to grow her nonprofit while working as a faculty research assistant for the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) at Horn Point Laboratory. In Fall 2021, Imani will continue at Horn Point and begin her first year as a master’s student.