On July 22, 2019, Martha Stewart Living profiled Hoopers Island’s team of female oyster famers working at our hatchery and nursery. Titled, “Beyond the Half Shell: These Three Women Are Making Names for Themselves in Oyster Farming,” the article examined how Natalie, Imani and Alyssa are part of a small but growing move of women forging careers in aquaculture.
Oysters, whether you like them on the half shell, broiled, or grilled, are the fish of the moment. As demand for the sustainable binary mollusks continues to soar (they help filter out pollutants in the water, create habitat for other marine life, and help to prevent coastal flooding and erosion), commercial oyster farming is booming with growers trying to keep up with demand. And yet the industry largely remains a male-dominated one. Hoopers Island Oyster Co. hatchery manager Natalie Ruark, 26, along with her colleagues Imani Black, 24, Alyssa O’Prey, 23, are some of just a few women oyster farmers on the East Coast. Though their numbers are small, they prove that the oyster industry is not just for men.
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