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Sea Grant Recognizes Best in Program

Sea Grant recently rolled out the (virtual) red carpet to recognize some of its own for their exemplary efforts at putting science to work for America’s coastal communities.

As 2020 draws to a close, Sea Grant is reflecting on its best moments of what has been an especially challenging year. Several Sea Grant projects and people were recently recognized by the Sea Grant Association (SGA) for their exceptional work. 


Research to Application Award


The Research to Application (R2A) award honors an individual research project or a body of research funded or implemented by a state Sea Grant program that has increased citizens’ understanding and responsible use of the nation’s ocean, coastal or Great Lakes resources, or has supported the informed personal, policy and management decisions of communities, or has led to the development of new products or tools with positive impacts related to a vibrant and resilient coastal economy or environment.


The 2020 R2A award went to Woods Hole Sea Grant for “A Watershed-Scale Analysis of Nitrogen Loading from Cranberry Agriculture in the Weweantic Watershed of Southeastern Massachusetts.” The state of Massachusetts is now using the team’s findings to prioritize sites for wetlands restoration. Additionally, the project provided valuable information in a plan by the state to accelerate cranberry bog restoration. The state of Massachusetts recently received $10 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to carry out the restoration work.


In some watersheds, especially in southeastern Massachusetts, cranberry agriculture represents a significant portion of the anthropogenic watershed nitrogen load. The research team quantified the contribution of cranberry bogs to estuarine nitrogen loads. Working with project partners, they developed GIS maps of bog locations, area, hydro-geographical setting and management type (flow-through, standard wetland bog separated from surface water, upland bog). Along with information on river flow networks and nitrogen attenuation in streams, results from their project can be used to estimate the range of surface water nitrogen loading from different types of cranberry bogs as well as explore future scenarios such as changes to bog management, retirement of cranberry bogs, or changes in river flows.


Superior Outreach Programming Award


The Superior Outreach Programming Award (SOPA) honors superior leadership, teamwork and accomplishment by Sea Grant extension personnel engaged in an exceptional outreach program. 


The 2020 SOPA went to Maine Sea Grant for outstanding work on their “Aquaculture in Shared Waters” program, which is designed to engage fishermen in aquaculture to diversify their opportunities in the seafood economy. The program uses a mix of meetings and field trips/site visits to introduce students of the program to the issues important in running a successful aquaculture business. As with any kind of marine profession, there is a lot to know, and the program covers a variety of topics, including: site selection, equipment and husbandry, permitting and regulation, environmental monitoring, marketing and sales, farm management, biosecurity, business planning, and financial management.


At least 250 people have participated in the program since it began in 2013. Maine Sea Grant has documented 30 new aquaculture businesses established with support from the program, as well as 44 new jobs, and more than 60 jobs that were expanded or retained due to diversification of economic activity through culture of additional species or extended harvesting seasons. For the period between February 2017 and January 2020, Maine Sea Grant documented a total of $3,671,780 in wages associated with new and retained jobs that were established or expanded/retained with support from the Aquaculture in Shared Waters (AQSW) program. The program has also strengthened professional networks between new and existing producers, and between growers and the team of AQSW program partners, who continue to provide growers with support and expertise related to leasing, loan services, gear and technology development, culture methods and husbandry, and marketing and business development as they transition into the industry.


Excellence in Communication Award


The Excellence in Communication Award recognizes an exceptional communication product or project from the Sea Grant Communication Network. Awarded projects reflect a high level of creativity and audience awareness that further supports Sea Grant’s programmatic mission. The award went to Virginia Sea Grant for their innovative ArcGIS story map in support of the Blue Line Project designed to increase public awareness of sea level rise in some of the East Coast’s most vulnerable neighborhoods.


Sea Grant Association President’s Award


The SGA President’s Award is given by the President of the SGA to individuals or groups who provide special service to the SGA and the Sea Grant network. The winner this year was the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Visioning Team for their fearless pursuit of placing Sea Grant in a leadership position on advancing the ideas that a diverse, equal, inclusive and just Sea Grant network is a stronger and more effective research, education and outreach program. The award was accepted by three representatives of the Sea Grant DEI committee Mona Behl, Georgia Sea Grant, Jane Harrison, North Carolina Sea Grant, and Sarah Kolesar, Oregon Sea Grant.


Sea Grant Association Distinguished Service Award


The Sea Grant Association Distinguished Service Award recognizes individuals with at least five years of service to Sea Grant who have provided truly superior service benefiting the entire Sea Grant College Program Network; serving the mission of research, education and outreach; and enhancing the reputation of the Sea Grant network. The award went to Rick Devoe, Director, South Carolina Sea Grant, noting his unstoppable devotion, support and promotion of Sea Grant. Rick demanded SGA think critically about the association’s policies and never lose sight of the importance of SGA’s ‘honest broker’ mantra and integrated mission of research, education and outreach. All organizations need a ‘conscience’ and Rick has been that for SGA and the organization has been strengthened by this. Rick’s many contributions have made SGA a better organization.


Congratulations to all of the 2020 SGA award winners. See past award winners on the Sea Grant Association’s website. 


About the SGA:  The Sea Grant Association (SGA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering the Sea Grant program concept. The SGA’s regular members are the academic institutions that participate in the National Sea Grant College Program. SGA provides the mechanism for these institutions to coordinate their activities, to set program priorities at both the regional and national level, and to provide a unified voice for these institutions on issues of importance to the oceans and coasts. The SGA advocates for greater understanding, use, and conservation of marine, coastal and Great Lakes resources.

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