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U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
National Wetlands Research Center
700 Cajundome Blvd.
Lafayette, LA 70506

Contact: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Phone: 337-266-8655
Fax: 337-266-8541
For Release: October 30, 2009

Gaye Farris To Retire from the USGS National Wetlands Research Center

LAFAYETTE, La. — Gaye Saucier Farris will retire December 31 as information and technology branch chief of the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wetlands Research Center, according to Center Director Janine Powell.

Farris has worked for the center for 29 years, 26 as a federal employee and 3 as a Louisiana Geological Survey employee on loan to the center.  In that time, she has been a technical editor, a supervisory technical information specialist, and acting assistant director in 1988 and 2007-2009.   She worked at the center in Slidell, La., from 1980 until 1992, when the center moved its headquarters to Lafayette.

Farris has received several honors including in 1995 the Meritorious Service Award, the highest mid-level career award given by the Department of the Interior.  In 1988 she was named the outstanding research employee in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which the center was part of at that time.

 In 2007 Farris was named a Gulf Guardian by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for her career of communicating scientific information about the Gulf Coast.  She also shared in three Lantern awards from the Southern Public Relations Federation for promoting the importance of the Gulf of Mexico.

Farris and the center’s publishing staff have produced dozens of publications that have received national recognition including awards from the National Association of Government Communicators and the Society for Technical Communication. Three were named “Notable Government Documents,” an honor annually bestowed on a small selection of government publications by the American Library Association.  Farris was managing editor of one of those, “Our Living Resources.” 

She was also managing editor of “Science and the Storms,” which reported on the agency’s response to the hurricanes of 2005, especially Katrina and Rita, and has written numerous articles about the center’s research.

Farris received a U.S. Geological Survey Shoemaker Communication Award in 2008 for her speech on the professional and personal aspects of communicating during Hurricane Katrina.  She shared in two other Shoemaker Awards for her contributions to the “Fragile Fringe” publication in 1997 and as a contributing editor to the Survey’s Sound Waves newsletter in 2004. 

In addition to her government work, Farris belonged to several professional organizations.  She was president from 2001 to 2003 of the National Association of Government Communicators, which honored her contributions in 2008 by establishing a scholarship in her name.

Before government service, Farris was a journalist and teacher. During the 1960s and 70s, she was a reporter for the Times-Picayune States Item in New Orleans and the Cincinnati Post and Times Star and wrote a weekly column for the Slidell Times. She was a science, journalism and English teacher in Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes, and was named outstanding young educator by the Slidell Jaycees in 1978. 

Farris graduated magna cum laude in 1964 from Loyola University, where she was a member of Cardinal Key, Delta Epsilon Sigma, and the Thirty Club honor societies. She received distinction on her comprehensive examination for her master’s degree in English in 1985 from the University of New Orleans, where she was a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. Farris also studied with Ernest Gaines, writer-in-residence at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 1992.

Farris and her husband, Lionel, will soon join their sons, Greg and Jeff, and their families in Florida. Farris says she plans to write fiction and rediscover the wonders of childhood with her granddaughter Jordan.

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