Palm Beach Rising: Nicole Kirchhoff Sargent

Photo Credit: Robert Nelson

Nicole Kirchhoff Sargent, The Water Bearer

A lover of the outdoors and especially the ocean, aquaculturist Nicole Kirchhoff Sargent began considering the importance of marine baitfish species after completing her Ph.D. at the University of Tasmania and working on commercial bluefin tuna farms in Australia. Although South Florida is the largest market for live marine baitfish, no such farms existed in the area until Sargent returned home to Jupiter and founded Live Advantage Bait in 2013. Now, her facility in Stuart supplies many local bait-and-tackle shops while she continues her conservation efforts and research on seldom-studied species. Her enthusiasm for these creatures helps her to inspire the many students she tutors, mentors, and advises, and to create artistic—albeit scientific—illustrations she shares with classrooms and museums. Sargent also gives back by donating her time to the Boy Scouts of America, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach County Fishing Foundation, and her high school alma mater, the Jupiter Environmental Research and Field Studies Academy. She and her husband, Nick, reside in West Palm Beach and will welcome their first child in June.

Life motto: Don’t confuse busyness with actual results.

Tips for taking action against coastal water pollution: Stop using fertilizers, ensure there’s no runoff coming from your yard, and clean up after your pets.

Most prized possession: A notebook I carry with me that I use to write down all of my research ideas. I lost it once and nearly panicked.

Dream dinner guest: Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross. She was a woman in an extremely male-dominated field who fought her way through. Sometimes it feels like that same type of fight when I walk into a bait shop. It’s a hard culture to break.

Noteworthy residents inside her 250-gallon salt water aquarium: Designer clown fish from a colleague’s farm in Maine and a few species native to Florida

Bucket list item: Swim with the whale sharks and see the Christmas crab migration in the Indian Ocean Favorite eatery: Captain Charlie’s Reef Grill in Juno Beach

Tastiest fish: Hogfish, tripletail, and snapper

On her playlist: Alt-J

Next goal: Finding property to expand my business. There’s a lot of demand, but space is very limited. I’d like to be able to supply all of the bait shops in the tri-county area within the next year.


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