Caitlin Feehery, a 2022 Finalist for Sea Grant’s Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship

By Shari Halik & Hallee Meltzer
July 26, 2021

Recent Vermont Law School graduate Caitlin Feehery has received a 2022 John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Sea Grant College Program. One of 74 finalists from 28 Sea Grant programs, Feehery, who was nominated by the Lake Champlain Sea Grant program, will gain hands-on experience transferring science to policy and management through a one-year appointment in a federal government office in Washington, D.C.

The 2022 Knauss Fellowship finalists will become the 43rd class of one of the most prestigious marine policy fellowships in the United States. Since 1979, Sea Grant has provided one-year Knauss fellowships to more than 1,500 early career professionals to work with federal agencies in D.C. 

“At both the state and national levels, Sea Grant’s active recruitment and student engagement efforts supported one of the most robust applicant pools in fellowship history,” said Jonathan Pennock, National Sea Grant College Program director. “I have no doubt that the finalists’ diverse perspectives will provide great insight towards addressing critical marine policy and science challenges. We look forward to welcoming the 2022 class of Knauss fellows.”

Feehery graduated in May 2021 with a Juris Doctor in environmental law and policy from Vermont Law School, in South Royalton, Vermont. Her background in marine science stems from previous graduate research at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. She then taught at Massachusetts Audubon as a teacher naturalist before entering law school.

As a law intern for the Conservation Law Foundation in Vermont, Feehery focused on projects related to clean water, public lands, and PFAS contamination. For the Foundation’s Oceans Program in Boston, she worked on fisheries enforcement and compliance policy in the New England ground fishing fleet, Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Marine Monument litigation, and emergency right whale protections from net entanglements.

“My acceptance as a Knauss fellow is the perfect culmination of my academic and career goals over the last decade and the ideal way to start my career as an environmental lawyer in the marine arena,” said Feehery. “I hope to be able to further explore the complex web that is policy work and how I, as a lawyer, can help safeguard our oceans in a way that does the least amount of harm to people who rely on them.”

Knauss finalists are chosen through a competitive process that includes several rounds of review at both the state Sea Grant program and national levels. Students finishing Masters (M.S.), Juris Doctor (J.D.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs with a focus and/or interest in marine science, policy, or management apply to one of the 34 Sea Grant programs. If applicants are successful at the state program level, their applications are then reviewed by a national panel of experts.

“We were highly impressed with Caitlin’s application to the Knauss Fellowship Program,” said Breck Bowden, Lake Champlain Sea Grant director. “Her combined experience in marine science, policy, and law and her high academic standing and achievements at Vermont Law School make her an ideal candidate for this prestigious fellowship. Her experience as Knauss fellow will surely further her environmental law career path in DC and her work on issues directly relevant to NOAA.”

This fall, Feehery and the other 2022 finalists will participate in a virtual placement week to get to know each other and interview with potential host offices. Following placement, they will begin their fellowships in February 2022 in either the executive or the legislative branch of the federal government.

Executive appointments for the 2021 Knauss fellows included placements throughout NOAA as well as with the Department of Energy, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Science Foundation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies. Legislative placements included the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (Majority), the House Committee on Natural Resources (Majority), the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (Majority and Minority), and several placements in both majority and minority personal offices (House and Senate).

Learn more about the Knauss Fellowship.


Placement of 2022 Knauss finalists as fellows is contingent on adequate funding in Fiscal Year 2022.