Tsunami Preparedness Week: Spotlight on Sea Grant Extension Agent Jamie Mooney
Coastal Resources Specialist at Washington Sea Grant
At Washington Sea Grant, Jamie provides expertise on emergency preparedness, hazard mitigation, and resilience for coastal communities. With a background in coastal hazards and community resilience, Jamie is developing Washington’s Coastal Hazards Resilience Network and incorporating resilience into planning processes for the Snohomish County Hazard Mitigation Plan Update. Jamie is active in helping Washington communities prepare for sea level rise. She is developing relevant curriculum for coastal managers participating in the state’s Coastal Training Program, and she also engages the public in envisioning future sea level rise through the Washington King Tides Initiative. Jamie also serves as Washington Sea Grant’s liaison to the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, where she supports tsunami education and outreach in coordination with the Washington Military Department’s Emergency Management Division.
Previously, Jamie was a Marc Hershman Marine Policy Fellow at Washington Sea Grant in 2010, where she focused on coastal hazards and coastal community resilience. She then worked on coastal hazard issues at the Washington Military Department’s Emergency Management Division. Jamie holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Management from Michigan State University and a Masters of Marine Affairs from the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs at the University of Washington.
It’s Tsunami Awareness Week, what is the one thing everyone needs to know about tsunamis?
There are so many tips! I think the most important would be that a tsunami involves more than one wave, and the first wave isn’t always the biggest. Another quick message that is easy to communicate is: When the ground shakes or the sea retreats, run to high ground or inland!
What is something cool you learned while working on tsunami outreach?
I learned about the impact that a single person can have on saving the lives of an entire community. Tsunami outreach requires a network of people, and information sharing can be the difference between life and death. The best examples are schoolchildren that learn about tsunamis and then save lives either at home or on a vacation, like this little girl from New Zealand. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2009-10-14/young-girl-honoured-as-tsunami-hero/1103752
What drove you to work on coastal hazards outreach?
Coastal hazards outreach is interesting because it connects to so many aspects of a community: community planning/development, disaster management, and coastal management, all connecting to form this large and growing field of “resilience” The field really requires an interdisciplinary skillset that allows for constant interaction with other sectors, and, when done effectively, leads to learning from all involved. It is collaborative by necessity and highlights how effective collaboration can be.
How did you get involved with Sea Grant? When did you join Sea Grant?
My graduate degree in marine affairs led to a fellowship focused on coastal hazards. My fellowship ran from 2010 - 2011 and I became Sea Grant staff in 2012.
What is your favorite part about being a Sea Grant Extension agent?
My favorite part is the design of the program. By nature, Sea Grant extension agents fill gaps that exist in other levels of government or between government and other sectors, such as academia. Too often these gaps are identified without solutions presented, but my job as a SGE agent is to fill these gaps. I also love working at a university.
What is the biggest challenge you face at your job?
While it’s my favorite part, “filling gaps” is also very challenging. It is difficult to work between agencies with different mandates and to try to help them become strong partners. Sometimes, existing programs and agencies can feel uncomfortable about our efforts to develop new collaborations between them. Easing that discomfort and building trust-based relationships can be a huge challenge.
When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in science?
I’ve been “left-brained” since elementary school, always choosing science or math as my favorite subjects. I had a hard time in English or literature classes, as I preferred subjects with more of a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer vs. a more subjective critique, like essays. I have also always enjoyed learning about ‘how stuff works’ which made science a logical career path.
What part of your job did you least expect to be doing?
I never thought I would be working right across the street from where I went to grad school! I also didn’t expect to regularly visit so many state and federal agencies, but given the subject area and focus, my frequent presence makes sense.
What’s at the top of your recommended reading list for someone wanting to explore a career in science?
This might be overly academic, but the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment’s report, Ecosystems and Human Well-being, shows various future scenarios for ecosystems, ecosystem services, and subsequent impacts on human well-being, based on factors such as greenhouse emission scenarios and social responses. Thinking like this is what inspired my career decisions.
And how about a personal favorite book?
Do you have an outside hobby?
In addition to more ‘traditional’ hobbies like traveling and enjoying the outdoors, I like to make my own hot sauce. I have tried hot sauces from across the nation and am finally at the stage where I like what I make best, which tends to be a fruit base with some strong, spicy peppers!
What surprised you most about working at Sea Grant?
I was most surprised to learn how flexible Sea Grant programs can be between states, and because of that, how many different ways can exist to achieve the same objective. Tsunami outreach methods that work in one area can be totally different than a method that works in another.
Check out our whole Tsunami Preparedness Week Spotlight Series:
Spotlight on Pat Corcoran
Spotlight on Dr. Kwok Fai Cheung
Spotlight on Dr. Ian Miller