Feb. 26, 2006 – Barry Devine, chief scientist at the University of the Virgin Islands Conservation Data Center, is one busy man.
He's often seen at local community meetings making presentations on the center's work or out at the V.I. Environmental Resource Center overseeing construction of the new laboratory. And when he's neither of those places, he's probably on the ferry from St. John to his UVI office on St. Thomas.
"I don't mind the commute a bit," he said. "It gets me off the island."
He said the ride from his home in Coral Bay to the Cruz Bay ferry dock is pleasant: he has time to work on the ferry and the St. Thomas experience expands his horizons.
And his various projects keep him on St. John two or three days a week.
Devine and the data center have their fingers in lots of pies.
"I get to do lots of interesting things. And I like educating and informing people," he said.
According to Devine, he spends about half his time in the field on either land or water developing data and the other half in his office putting it into a form that can be disseminated to the public.
Devine, with UVI's Toni Thomas, is the author of "Island Peak to Coral Reef: A Field Guide to the Plant and Marine Communities of the Virgin Islands," and he contributed to the Ocean Conservancy's "The State of the Coral Reefs in the Virgin Islands."
He said his work at the data center allows him to give back to the community. However, the job comes with frustrations, including watching the territory's environment go downhill fast.
Devine said that last year he counted elkhorn coral on Pelican Rock, located off St. John, which had 16 corals growing. Recently, he took another look and found only a piece of one left.
"It doesn't speak well for what's going on," he said, adding that fire coral is also dying off.
Devine, 58, moved to St. John in 1999 after graduating with his doctorate from the University of Rhode Island.
He and his wife, Diane, had spent many vacations on St. John, eventually building several cottages in Coral Bay along with two other families. While working on his dissertation, he decided that St. John was where he wanted to live.
"I took a look at the Web and found the job I now have. I was thrilled with the opportunity to start a new life," he said.
The path to that point began in New York City, where Devine was born. His family moved to Lake Ronkonkoma, on nearby Long Island, when he was a child — a move that sparked Devine's interest in outdoor adventures like hiking and fishing.
After graduating from high school, he went off to college at several nearby schools. Never finding quite the right fit while studying business, he was then drafted into the military.
With a growing interest in the environment, he went on to Suffolk Community College to study marine science. That led to a bachelor's degree from Cornell University and a job running the Youth and Young Adult Conservation Corps for the state of Rhode Island.
Devine said he liked that job because it helped change lives, but when the funding ran out, he was at a crossroads. Not interested in another state job, he started restoring old yachts in Slocum, R.I.
That business expanded into construction, with Devine and a partner rebuilding houses for resale and developing larger tracts of land.
Devine said he still likes to build, but when he's not on the job, he enjoys his time with his family, especially his daughter Erin, 26, who spends winters with her parents on St. John.
Whenever he gets a moment of down time, Devine enjoys reading, listening to music, drawing, hiking, and running.
"Mostly outdoor things," he said.
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