Kathy Leahy, the 2021 MASNA Aquarist of the Year
Kathy Leahy, the 2021 MASNA Aquarist of the Year

via Marine Aquarium Societies of North America (MASNA)

UPDATE: Watch a roundtable discussion with Kathy Leahy at MACNA 2021: WATCH NOW!

MASNA is excited to announce Kathy Leahy of St. Louis, Missouri as the 2021 MASNA Aquarist of the Year in recognition of her friendship, her mentoring, the sharing of her knowledge, and for inspiring countless marine aquarists in the art of breeding marine fish.

MASNA will be awarding its annual MASNA Aquarist of the Year and MASNA Award to the recipients at the MACNA 2021 Saturday Afternoon Awards Ceremony from 3 pm Eastern, September 4th, 2021 at MACNA 2021 – Supporting an Equitable Trade.

Annually, MASNA awards the prestigious MASNA Award and Aquarist of the Year Award to deserving individuals for their work in helping shape and influence the marine aquarium hobby in a way that positively contributes to the ongoing sustainability of the hobby to the future marine environment. Together with MASNA, previous recipients of the MASNA Award confer to decide who has given the most to the hobby and industry to be deserving of that years’ awards from a selection of nominees.

About Kathy Leahy – MASNA Aquarist of the Year, 2021

Kathy Leahy has been a marine aquarist for nearly two decades, first entering the hobby along with her 11-year-old son. The pair devoted themselves to the practice of researching, reading heavily before ever adding a drop of water to that first aquarium.

What followed has been years of expansion and progression into the marine aquarium hobby, with an emphasis on the pursuit of breeding marine fish as a home hobbyist. For 10 years, Leahy honed her craft producing several clownfish species which were sold in the Midwest through her business, Kathy’s Clowns. Eventually, her desires to experiment and grow as a breeder led her to more challenging marine ornamental species, including a groundbreaking home-breeding achievement in 2016 where she successfully reared the Coral Beauty Angelfish (Centropyge bispinosa) from eggs provided by fellow aquarists Tom Priscu. Prior to that point, the species had not been reared in captivity, and no hobbyists had reared a Centropyge sp. angelfish at home, much less in a landlocked Midwestern U.S. state. Leahy’s accomplishments were published on Reefs.org, Reef Hobbyist Magazine, and the French-language ZebrasO’mag. Leahy continues to pursue the experimental home breeding of other dwarf angelfish species at this time.

Kathy Leahy at the 2018 MACNA Marine Breeder’s Meet-Up, surrounded by friends and fellow marine aquaculturists.

Leahy’s impact on the hobby spans far beyond simply being a talented hobbyist marine fish breeder. She has actively participated in numerous forums, including Saltwater Fish: Fish Breeding, Reef Central: Fish Breeding, Marine Depot: Fish Breeding, MOFIB, and the Marine Breeding Initiative (MBI). She has also volunteered as a moderator at Marine Depot and MOFIB, and presently as a moderator at MBI. It is truly her community involvement, and the way in which she treats those she interacts with, that stand out. Says Leahy; “I endeavor to be encouraging, engaging, and helpful. I’ve met many wonderful friends and colleagues through these forums and in person at MACNA. Occasionally, there have been some personality issues that popped up on these forums, and my contributions have come to be valued, not just with regards to fish breeding, but for the maturity and levelheadedness I have brought to these issues.”

A professional scientist, Leahy embodies the spirit of freely sharing knowledge. Talented professional marine fish breeder Erin Pereira noted that Leahy has an incredible ability to communicate science. In an era of “soundbite” communication, fellow scientist and aquaculturist Bill Capman noted that when Leahy answers a question, what follows will be the knowledge and insights needed to create transformative results for the inquirer.

Kathy Leahy congratulates Dr. Andrew Rhyne on his 2017 MASNA Award recognition.
Kathy Leahy congratulates Dr. Andrew Rhyne on his 2017 MASNA Award recognition.

Humble beyond description, Leahy noted that this recognition was not something she pursued or ever had as a goal. To paraphrase, all she did was pursue her passions and interests deeply, and share what she learned with others. For those who know her closest, Leahy’s generosities of time, of mentorship, of friendship, and of support for her fellow aquarists are qualities to be admired and emulated; some feel she sets the standard to which we should aspire when we collaborate as one aquarium community.

Watch as Kathy Leahy is joined by many aquarists and past MASNA Award and Aquarist Of The Year recipients for a roundtable discussion during MACNA 2021!

About The Award Process

Every spring, MASNA Members are invited to submit nominations for consideration. Nominations in and of themselves are a great honor, so it is crucial that you take the time to nominate worthy candidates, particularly those unsung heroes in your own aquarist circle. The aquarist you may feel most deserves this honor can’t be considered if you don’t nominate them, so be sure to watch for the next nomination period in the spring of 2022.

Please also remember that you can resubmit your nominations in subsequent years to keep these noteworthy candidates up for consideration. Many past recipients have been nominated repeatedly before ultimately being selected by the committee.

Ultimately, the annual MASNA Award and Aquarist of the Year recognitions are the culmination of several months of nominations, considerations, debate, and a rigorous voting process. Recognition with these awards is more than just a milestone of recognition, but often represents encouragement that the honorees keep doing what they did that earned them this recognition, and hopes that there is even more to come!

To learn more about the MASNA Aquarist of the Year visit: https://masna.org/masna-programs/aquarist-of-the-year

About MASNA, Marine Aquarium Societies of North America

MASNA is a non-profit organization composed of marine aquarium clubs, individual hobbyists and industry partners from North American and abroad, totaling several thousand individuals.

MASNA Goals are to:

  • Educate our members with online and published material, the MACNA conference, and other sanctioned events,
  • Assist in forming and promoting the growth of clubs within the hobby while ensuring a sustainable future for the marine environment,
  • Support the efforts to eliminate abuses in collecting and transporting marine organisms through education, assistance, and encouragement, and
  • Encourage the ethical growth of the marine aquarium hobby and support captive breeding/propagation efforts.

MASNA’s charter and additional information about MASNA can be found at http://masna.org/aboutus.

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