4th, 2022, TCS convened its 22nd Coastal Career workshop
in New Orleans. This ongoing workshop series is part of TCS’s Margaret A.
Davidson (MAD) Coastal Career Development Program, which was initiated in 2018
to prepare the next generation of coastal professionals. The workshop was sponsored
by Louisiana Sea Grant, the National Academy of Science’s Gulf Research
Program, and the Louisiana Science Teachers Association (LSTA), and was hosted
by the Meraux Foundation. Among the workshop’s key partners were Restore
America’s Estuaries, which was hosting its biennial summit the following week,
and the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.
sponsor support enabled TCS to test five approaches not attempted in earlier
1. Given that this was the first completely in-person event in the last two years, we established clear protocols to reduce the risk of covid-19 and classroom or field accidents. We employed safe distancing when indoors and every one of our 62 attendees completed a legal release for accidents. This was very important as we switched venues for talks and breaks around the host campus and then used bus transportation to offsite destinations
2. Next, we collaborated with the LSTA to reach STEM high schools, thereby shifting beyond our traditional focus on graduate schools to include students as early as 10th grade. We had a particularly strong showing from the high school upper-classes.
3. We designed special activities and talks for the younger students in high school, at community colleges, or early in a four-year program while continuing to provide academic and professional career advice to attendees closer to their terminal degree. The most popular hands-on module was underwater research, and favorite talks covered job-hunting skills, networking, USAJobs, and contracting with state and federal agencies.
4. We supplemented our morning of introductory talks and break-out sessions with three afternoon stops along the Mississippi River to view a sampling of the coastal careers shared by our morning speakers – tree farming to provide material for shoreline protection, oyster restoration efforts supported by shell recycling programs, and one of many diversion structures redirecting river waters into coastal marshes.
5. Finally, we made a conscious effort to attract a more diverse audience than had participated in earlier workshops. We greatly exceeded expectations with student attendees but not our speakers. Our efforts will continue as we seek a representative cross-section of students and speakers.
workshop was the most recent example of how TCS is improving the MAD Coastal
Career Development Program. We look forward to continued success with our slate
of workshops in 2023. Watch https://thecoastalsociety.org/ for the latest on upcoming MAD
The Coastal Society (TCS) hosted three Professional Spotlight sessions featuring TCS members in 2021. Each Spotlight session features seasoned TCS professionals who share their career paths and provide career tips to students and young professional members. These events also serve as an opportunity for members to connect and network. The Professional Spotlight events are hosted as part of the Coastal Connections series to benefit TCS members. The video sessions were recorded via Zoom; TCS members may request a link to these recordings by sending an email here. To receive invitations for future Professional Spotlight sessions, please be sure your TCS membership is current. Join or renew at Membership – The Coastal Society. You can also read more about the Coastal Connections series on the TCS website.
Kristen Fletcher (J.D.), Faculty Associate at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California, was our guest speaker during the session held on Monday, May 10, 2021. Kristen provided an overview of her professional journey, stemming from law degrees at Notre Dame and Lewis and Clark Law School. This included working for NOAA Sea Grant for 10 years at the University of Mississippi and Roger Williams University. She then took the role of Executive Director of the Coastal States Organization. During this time, she became involved with TCS and served a term as TCS President.
Kristen and her family later moved to California, where she explored several employment options (such as founding her own environmental consulting firm) before joining the NPS. At the NPS, she has helped lead the development of the NPS Climate and Security Network. Kristen noted several professional lessons learned, including being open to change (whether you choose it or not!) and being generous with your time to connect with others. She encouraged participants to ask for support from their professional network.
Discussion following Kristen’s presentation focused on topics such as facilitating multiple ocean uses through marine spatial planning, balancing multiple professional interests in your career, and the value of identifying metrics to track your professional accomplishments (e.g., percent growth of your organization). View Kristen’s presentation HERE.
Michael Orbach (PhD), Professor Emeritus of the Practice of Marine Affairs and Policy at Duke University, was our guest speaker during the session held on Thursday, July 8, 2021. Mike discussed his educational background leading to a Ph.D. in Anthropology from U.C. San Diego. He then took a position with NOAA as a social science advisor before returning to academic roles at UC Santa Cruz, East Carolina University, and Duke University. He has served on numerous boards and commissions, including a role as President of The Coastal Society in the mid-1990s and a current position as chair of the National Research Council’s Committee on Offshore Science and Assessment which advises the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
Mike’s research has focused on domestic and international fishery management and social science applications in coastal management and policy. He advised young professionals to be creative and willing to make a change to do something out of the ordinary. Mike also stressed the importance of developing a network of contacts, noting that this was key to his own career transitions and led to a relatively unique position as a “professor of practice”.
Following Mike’s presentation, discussion with participants included a “bottom-up” approach to stakeholder engagement, whereby Mike observed that we cannot “force a solution” and expect to achieve consensus. He suggested that while research and advocacy were important in achieving a conservation goal, most of the work relates to facilitating the coordination and implementation of ideas. Mike also offered tips for pursuing international jobs. View Mike’s presentation HERE.
Rebekah Padgett was our guest speaker for the session on Thursday, December 15, 2021. Rebekah is the 401/CZM Federal Permit Manager for the Washington (State) Department of Ecology (DOE) responsible for water quality certification and coastal consistency reviews, a role she has held since 2004. She outlined her educational background leading to a Master’s in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island. She noted brief roles with the National Park Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and a consulting firm before joining DOE. In 2019 and 2020, she was on sabbatical, performing marine debris research for the Centre for Action Environment Science Society (CARESS) in Tamil Nadu, India.
Rebekah emphasized the importance of building lasting, reciprocal relationships and seeking different perspectives. She also spoke on the value of continuous learning, being flexible, staying open to new opportunities, and volunteering. Rebekah previously served on the Board of Directors for TCS and is currently volunteering with Ecologists Without Borders as their representative to Global Partnership on Marine Litter.
Rebekah’s presentation was followed by a discussion that covered exploring fellowship opportunities as a student, building a network with others in your field, how to highlight skills developed through diverse experiences when applying for a new job, and how regulatory/permitting positions can provide exposure to diverse types of projects.
We thank all our guest speakers for
taking time to share their stories!
The COVID-19 pandemic not only shuttered our shared work and study spaces, but it also coincided with nationally palpable social unrest that highlighted ongoing social justice issues within higher education, and governmental and corporate institutions, regarding bias and discrimination faced by many students and professional scientists of color. The unfortunate truth is not something that has occurred by happenstance: a lack of diversity breeds discriminatory behaviors which often drive people of color out of positions in the coastal, ocean, and marine (COM) sciences or keep them from entering in the first place (Berhe et al., 2021). All Americans have supposedly been afforded equal rights since The Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 (or Juneteenth in 1865, depending on whom you ask), and yet Black Americans often were not allowed to partake in marine science endeavors alongside White Americans until nearly 40 years ago—over a decade after the height of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and the beginnings of integrating the segregated public school system following the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme court decision in 19541. For instance, Evan B. Ford was the first Black scientist to participate in research dives aboard a deep-sea submersible in 19792.
Over the past nine months, The Coastal Society (TCS) has partnered with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Education and Outreach group on a unique diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) effort that fits within the paradigm of the COVID-19 pandemic. This project, funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) one-year grant, supported TCS in co-organizing a series of free, virtual career development events for faculty and underrepresented minorities (URM) in the COM sciences fields at federally designated minority serving institutions (MSIs)3. The effort is in response to mounting anecdotal and empirical evidence of the underrepresentation of Black Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities within the COM fields relative to other demographic groups in the United States (NSF & NCSES, 2017). Although racial and ethnic minority representation is similarly scarce in other spaces of higher education, the lack of diversity in the COM science disciplines is particularly persistent (Bernard & Cooperdock, 2018) and the effects are visible in the academic and non-academic workforce.
COM sciences are interdisciplinary which can translate to ill-defined career paths; opportunities extend across biological sciences, engineering, math and technology, economics, and social science sectors. Jobs and “the workforce” are vital institutional structures that impact survival, well-being and public health outcomes, and social status. A career path that exemplifies one’s individual passions, values, and skills is important for all, including people of color. It is NSF’s stance that a robust STEM workforce is a national priority4, and a strong national workforce is a diverse one. Professional societies like TCS can expand their support to a diverse ocean and coastal workforce of researchers, educators, practitioners, and government officials. TCS has begun to strengthen this diversity within its membership, both through its collaboration with NCAR and the newly developed 5-year DEI Strategic Plan.
The TCS-NCAR partnership proposed two main goals: (1) retain and support undergraduate and graduate students in pursuing careers in these fields; and (2) build faculty and staff capacity at MSIs to provide students with career development training. This was to be accomplished through a set of virtual outreach activities, which developed over the course of the project. The challenge was to address these ambitious goals within a short timeframe. What objectives would realistically be feasible given our resources and how could they be achieved?
The project team of three painstakingly collected contact information of COM faculty from online directories at 16 MSIs with relevant curricula. We arranged informal small group meetings with faculty at seven of the 16 schools and it became apparent from these conversations that the second goal—to build faculty and staff capacity at MSIs—did not align with the capacity of the faculty at these institutions. Nevertheless, the majority remained open to communicating suggestions that would create professional opportunities for their students during and after their formal education.
By the conclusion of the project, four free public career development workshop events and one faculty forum were hosted through Zoom and Google Meet platforms. Designating events as Zoom meetings rather than webinars created a more intimate setting for the events. Through this format, participants could see each other and speak live directly to the group. All events were offered between September 2021 and February 2022 and were around 75 minutes in duration. The workshops attracted both graduate and undergraduate students enrolled at MSIs and those who were not. The faculty forum allowed for an informal dialogue about career development projects undertaken by different departments and an opportunity to expand inter-institutional networks.
The feedback received from attendees was limited yet positive and supportive of the endeavor. Students reported interest in, “[m]ore networking opportunities for both as a scientist and for people of color, URM in these fields,” and appreciated that, “panelists were very candid and sincere about their experiences.” One student remarked that, “The advice I really appreciated was opening my eyes to the fact I did not need to solely rely on loans for grad school and that I could be picky about my options.” Another participant shared in the virtual chat, “The opportunity to ask questions regarding grad school really made my decision much more clear to start working towards a future in grad school”5.
It is my hope that these meaningful programmatic events continue to be incorporated at TCS. The experience of co-facilitating this project has been invaluable to me, one of many emerging professional scientists of color working outside academia. I recommend that future DEI efforts work toward smaller, more easily measurable goals, that projects and opportunities for students of color are designed with students, faculty, and professionals of color, and that those projects are reflective and mutually beneficial for all participants.
Disclaimer: This post does not serve as an endorsement of the author’s opinion, nor does it express the views of the Coastal Society.
References and Further Reading:
Berhe, A. A., Barnes, R. T., Hastings, M. G., Mattheis, A., Schneider, B., Williams, B. M., & Marín-Spiotta, E. (2022). Scientists from historically excluded groups face a hostile obstacle course. Nature Geoscience, 15(1), 2-4.
Bernard, R. E., & Cooperdock, E. H. (2018). No progress on diversity in 40 years. Nature Geoscience, 11(5), 292-295.
Gasman, M., Nguyen, T. H., & Conrad, C. F. (2015). Lives intertwined: A primer on the history and emergence of minority serving institutions. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 8(2), 120.
National Science Foundation, & National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. (2017). Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering: 2017. Special Report NSF 17–310. Arlington, VA. Retrieved from: www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/.
By Jeff Flood, Tom Bigford, Adrian Laufer, & Lisa Kim
Following a successful series of Margaret A. Davidson (MAD) Coastal Career Workshops in 2020, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, TCS has refined its processes for planning and conducting virtual events while also broadening its approach to include more speakers from diverse backgrounds and tailoring workshop topics to the interests and regional characteristics of the hosting institutions. Workshop formats also varied to meet the needs of attendees and reflected the creative thinking of TCS MAD Coastal Career Development Committee (welcoming two new members). The result was five successful workshops, described in more detail below.
Estuarine Research Society
On April 27, 2021, TCS
partnered with the Atlantic Estuarine Research Society (AERS) to host a
half-day workshop in conjunction with their joint spring meeting with the New
England Estuarine Research Society (NERRS). This event marked the fourth
consecutive virtual workshop during the pandemic and demonstrated continued
success in recruiting speakers of diverse backgrounds and utilizing virtual
breakout sessions to promote more interaction by attendees. MAD Committee
co-chair Tom Bigford led the planning team effort with support from MAD
Committee co-chair Jeff Flood and TCS Members Cassie Wilson and Trystan Sill.
of Rhode Island
Current leadership and
recent graduates of the University of Rhode Island’s TCS student chapter hosted
a half-day event on May 18, 2021 focused on broad topics such as jobs in
international ocean policy and marine industry opportunities and technical
advice on virtual networking, applying for Federal agency jobs, and crafting
diversity statements for job applications and organizations once you’re hired.
Jeff led the planning team effort with support from Tom, Cassie, Trystan, and
URI Chapter President Courtney Milley as well as recent URI graduates Joe Dwyer
and Eric Kretsch.
Oregon Sea Grant
On June 29 and 30, 2021,
former NOAA Coastal Management Fellow (and current TCS Board Member) Adrian
Laufer collaborated with Oregon Sea Grant to sponsor and host a West Coast
workshop for graduate-level fellows. Adrian worked directly with current Oregon
Sea Grant graduate fellows, leveraging their Community of Practice to engage
with other graduate fellows in Oregon, California, Washington, Alaska, Hawai’i,
and Pacific Islands. Oregon graduate fellows played a role in determining the workshop
topics, The workshop reached a total of 56 attendees: five from Alaska; eight
from California; four from Hawai’i and the Pacific; 19 from Oregon; nine from
Washington; and eight with no west coast Sea Grant affiliation. The planning
team also coordinated an ocean and coastal themed trivia event, hosted by the Surfrider
Foundation, to follow the last day of the workshop, as a means of facilitating
community building across west coast fellows. The workshop was incredibly
well-received, with 100% of attendees reporting that they are inclined to
participate in more TCS events or become TCS members. In addition, the TCS
planning team members made valuable regional connections, establishing a solid
foundation to bring more resources to enhance student and young professionals’
experience in this area.
TCS designed a hybrid in-person and virtual full-day MAD workshop on November 16, 2021 to meet the specific needs of the Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The event was sponsored by the College’s Fisheries and Wildlife Department, easing participation by 22 graduate students. The program featured plenary sessions on the shifting employment landscape and careers outside academia and offered content on six professional skills needed to launch a rewarding career, including mentors, networks, virtual and in-person interviews, working in public and private sectors, and work-life balance. This workshop was a return to the full-day program TCS has missed since switching to a virtual format. Tom led the workshop effort with assistance from Jeff and new MAD Committee Member Lisa Kim.
Despite a busy semester,
the Duke student chapter showed tremendous leadership and resolve in planning
and hosting a workshop on December 3, 2021 that featured several Duke alumni
and was characterized by a more free-flowing discussion between participants
and speakers than in previous workshops. In addition to being an outstanding
experience for all those involved, the new agenda format provided yet another
example of how the TCS planning team can learn a great deal from the host
institution. Duke Chapter Vice President Kara Nunnally led the planning team
with assistance from Chapter officers and TCS MAD Committee Members Jeff, Tom,
Lisa, and Kelly Dobroski.
At each of the 2021
workshops, skilled speakers representing many sectors and perspectives shared
their personal stories and tips for how to be successful in a coastal career.
Nearly all registrants (90% average) felt the workshops were a good use of
their time and most (75%) thought the nominal registration fee was appropriate.
Since December of 2018, TCS has hosted 16 MAD Coastal Career Workshops. TCS is currently planning the rest of its 2022 calendar and anticipates partnering with The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation to host a workshop in conjunction with Capitol Hill Oceans Week in early June, working with west coast Sea Grant offices to host another west coast graduate fellow workshop in early summer, and continuing to coordinate with TCS student chapters to tailor events to fit their need. The MAD Committee continues to coordinate with the DEIJ Working Group to reach historically underserved communities while also looking to access new geographic regions such as the Gulf Coast and Florida. Learn more about this workshop series and check back for updates to the schedule as events are finalized at: https://thecoastalsociety.org/margaret-a-davidson-coastal-career-development-program/
By Ashley Gordon, Melanie Perello, and Steven MacLeod
While only two small-scale offshore wind projects are currently operational along the East Coast, the U.S. offshore wind market is quickly expanding. In the coming decades, as much as 26 GW of wind power could be generated within existing offshore leases between Rhode Island and Virginia. To consider how this may affect coastal communities, The Coastal Society’s Coastal Connections session, held on February 26, 2021, focused on the benefits and challenges of offshore wind development. Moderated by Jennifer McCann, Director of U.S. Coastal Programs at the University of Rhode Island and Director of Extension with Rhode Island Sea Grant, a panel of experts highlighted the planning, economic, and environmental considerations associated with offshore wind project development for coastal communities, focusing on recent development along the East Coast.
Our panel of experts held a lively discussion, addressing
questions about renewable energy and carbon emission life cycles, capacity
building for supply chain and job creation, impacts to fisheries, benefits of
regional partnership and marine spatial planning, and challenges for offshore
wind development in other regions of the U.S.
You can watch a recording of the panel here, and highlights from each of the panelists’ presentations are provided below.
Snyder, Ocean and Great Lakes Program Manager for the NY Department of State’s
Office of Planning, Development, and Community Infrastructure
Mike Snyder provided an overview of the various types and scales of communities involved in offshore wind development. He recognized multiple challenges and opportunities that are nested across different scales related to fisheries, marine navigation, carbon emissions reductions, rate impacts to local taxpayers, recreation/public access, equity issues, and aesthetic impacts. In the state of New York, technical working groups have been created to address environmental, commercial, and recreational fishing, maritime, and jobs and supply chain considerations. Mike also emphasized the importance of an evolutionary approach to offshore wind development. (Presentation available here)
Smith, Director of Offshore Wind for the Hampton Roads Alliance
Matt Smith discussed economic development
opportunities associated with offshore wind. While the majority of the current
supply chain capacity for offshore wind is in Europe, the Hampton Roads
Alliance is focused on building a supply chain in the Hampton Roads region of
Virginia. Matt reviewed the multi-year process for U.S. offshore wind projects,
which includes siting and development, design and manufacture, construction and
installation, and operations and maintenance. Two offshore wind projects,
Dominion Energy’s Coastal Virginia project and Avangrid Renewables’ Kitty Hawk
project, will be serviced by the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. These two
projects combined are anticipated to provide power to 1.4 million homes, avoid
about 10 million tons of CO2 emissions, and provide a $1.43 billion direct
economic impact from construction alone on the regional economy. (Presentation
is available here)
Kutina, Environmental Scientist at WSP
Laurie Kutina reviewed the environmental
considerations associated with offshore wind development and the U.S. agencies
and regulations involved, including the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
(BOEM) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). She provided examples from
the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) New
York Offshore Wind Master Plan, which charted a course to the procurement of an
initial 2,400 MW of offshore wind capacity for the state. Anticipated
environmental benefits to New York include 5 million tons of greenhouse gas
reduction and air quality improvements, particularly in New York City and Long
Island. Laurie also discussed wind turbine visibility considerations. In New
York, the turbines of the closest planned wind farms would be located roughly
14 miles offshore and would be barely visible. Laurie highlighted opportunities
that exist to engage in the offshore wind development process, including the
NYSERDA offshore wind outreach webpage. (Presentation is available here)
The Coastal Society’s
Coastal Connections Web Conferencing Series was initiated in 2020 with two
concepts: Trending Topic sessions and Professional Spotlight
sessions. Here we focus on the first two Professional Spotlight
sessions, which are members-only events featuring seasoned TCS professionals who
share their career paths and provide career tips to student and young
professional members. It is also a chance for the guest speaker to reconnect
with other long-time TCS members.
The first Professional
Spotlight session, which was the second
session in the overall Coastal Connections series, was held on Thursday,
October 1, 2020 at 5 pm (Eastern) using Google Meet. TCS member Rick DeVoe
was the guest speaker. Rick, the recently retired Executive Director of the
South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, provided an overview of his professional
career path, including his educational background, his experiences with the
S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, and his involvement as one of the earliest members
of The Coastal Society.
Rick shared several
professional tips, including the importance of communication skills, building a
network, and finding a great mentor. He advised us to “be prepared
for the worst, and the best will result”. Rick noted that Margaret A. Davidson – the honorary
namesake for our TCS career development program – was an influential mentor for
Rick’s presentation covered advice for identifying a professional mentor, the
role of the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium in coastal management, and coastal
resiliency planning. For example, Rick noted the importance of restoring
habitat in a way that accounts for predicted environmental conditions such as
higher sea levels. We wish Rick all
the best as he embarks on his retirement adventures!
The second Professional Spotlight
session (and fourth
session in the overall series) was held on Thursday, December 17, 2020 at 4 pm
(Eastern) through Zoom. The session featured TCS member Lisa Phipps, the
North Coast Regional Representative for the Oregon Department of Land
Conservation and Development. Lisa discussed a career path that began with
fisheries research for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. She then shifted
to work in multiple levels of government in Oregon, including positions as a
mayor and a judge, after she obtained a Master’s in Environmental Policy with a
focus on coastal zone management from Vermont Law School. In her current role,
Lisa works with coastal communities to supports the implementation of statewide
Lisa shared lessons that she has learned, encouraging
us to be adaptable and willing to try a new career/life path when faced with
roadblocks. She noted that “sometimes what you
thought was the destination is simply a stopover”. She summarized with a Winnie
the Pooh quotation: “Life is a journey to be experienced, not a problem to be
Discussion following Lisa’s presentation touched on the value of seeking a job based on a desired type of work and/or geographic location to help ensure a rewarding experience. Lisa emphasized the importance of listening to and truly considering multiple stakeholder perspectives when working towards a conclusion. Lisa noted that some of her most satisfying experiences involved directly helping to improve the life of one person at a time. To receive invitations for future Professional Spotlight sessions, please be sure your TCS membership is current. Join or renew at the TCS website: Membership – The Coastal Society.
4, 2020, marked our second joint coastal career workshop with the Coastal and
Estuarine Research Federation (CERF). This year we partnered with the Atlantic
Estuarine Research Society and Southeast Estuarine Research Society, the CERF
regional affiliates for the Atlantic and Southeast states and territories.
common interests made for lively keynote talks (one by TCS President Steve
MacLeod on being a private consultant and a society officer) and six breakouts
on personal and professional skills (one lead by TCS Board member, and former
CERF Board member, Geno Olmi on federal service). Together, the program offered
career insights and optimism to students and recent graduates. There are jobs out
there for stellar applicants with polished personal skills! See more detail at TCS MAD Program.
workshop was smaller than most but that did not dampen enthusiasm. Ben Fertig, AERS President and a speaker,
wrote “Great workshop, nice job!!” and
offered to be a mentor to interested registrants. Mike DeLuca, a Senior
Associate Director in the Rutgers University Office of Research and a speaker,
said “I truly enjoyed chatting with the students . . . at the MAD event. Thanks
for including me.” Sage Riddick, a Duke graduate student, got the student registration
fee by joining TCS. Nicole Marks, a recent graduate of the University
of Delaware, said “I really appreciated the honesty of the presenters. I’ve heard
about the perks of working in the different sectors before but a lot of people
have a tendency to leave out the not as exciting details.”
As the workshop closed, Ben Fertig mentioned that AERS would
welcome a workshop at its 2021 joint meeting with the New England Estuarine
Research Society. I think we have an annual tradition!
Finally, HUGE thanks to East Carolina University’s Office of
Continuing Education (Jolie Ann Busby and Ashley Cox) for their help on the
Pathable platform, TCS Board members Tricia Hooper and Kim Grubert for their assistance,
our CERF, AERS, and SEERS sponsors for accommodating TCS in their conference
schedule, and East Carolina University professors Joe Luczkovich (past AERS
President) and Enrique Reyes (current SEERS President) for their insights
throughout the entire process.
With the same enthusiasm as a mantis shrimp going for a human’s finger, a large group of TCS members click on the Renew Your Membership icon as soon as they get the reminder email in December.
I caught up with the first members to renew for 2018.
These eight coastal champions shared their reasons for renewing, what their hopes are for TCS and their careers in 2018, and, most importantly, what they hope for our coastlines in 2018.
TCS spans disciplines and crosses boundaries like no other professional association. This is what Louisiana Sea Grant Scholar Don Davis told me. The mix of disciplines represented within TCS is evidenced by the first eight members to renew for 2018.
Because there are many policymakers who are TCS members, Don believes the translator-like interpretation needed between scientists and policymakers is eased. Policymakers in TCS help bring scientists successfully into the policy realm and scientists help policymakers navigate coastal jargon and options.
Many TCS members wear multiple hats of scientist and policymaker and everything in between, above, and beneath…
Or teach multiple disciplines, like Lawrence B. Cahoon, 2017 Distinguished Teaching Professor in Biology and Marine Biology for University of North Carolina Wilmington.
Larry hopes that in 2018 the public awareness of coastal management issues (resource and energy development, coastal storm mitigation, sea level rise, and economic transitions) “continues to rise and finds expression in wise policy decisions”. His own goal for this year is to continue to make useful contributions to the science underpinning policy decisions.
Coastal advocates in TCS might agree with Pete Stauffer, Environmental Director for the Surfrider Foundation, in his hopes that “we can empower coastal communities and the public to have a stronger voice in the management decisions that affect our coastlines.”
Pete stressed, “It’s never been more important for coastal professionals to network and support each other.”
When Pete told me that TCS has played an important role in his development as a coastal advocate, I was greatly encouraged. I am a former grassroots advocate who misses mobilizing communities. It makes me feel secure that I have TCS to help make transitions to different areas of coastal management if I desire.
Pushing the envelope are coastal scientists conducting applied research. They can help decision makers adopt protocols and standards that bring in the future. Stephen Dickson, a marine geologist at the Maine Geological Survey, has played a pivotal role in forward thinking hazard mitigation strategies.
His recent work includes mitigating coastal bluff erosion with nature-based approaches that mimic and maintain coastal ecosystems as sea level rises.
Steve told me that 2017 was “a banner year for geohazards and coastal disasters with extreme costs around the world. Lives were lost, structures demolished, and coastal ecosystems destroyed.”
Steve would like to see TCS members collectively continue to advocate and teach ways for sustainable coastal development and post-storm recovery with integrated science, economics, and public policy.
But the top eight members to renew are not just domestically-focused.
Kem Lowry, Emeritus Professor of Urban and Regional Planning with the University of Hawaii, has had the good fortune to be involved in coastal planning and research activities in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines for about forty years. His primary focus now is climate change adaptation. The last three years Kem has worked with colleagues throughout the Asia-Pacific region delivering week-long training courses on urban climate change adaptation.
In the U.S. Kem is developing a coastal retreat strategy for Hawaii with a team. He told me that in these and other areas of work he has been informed and inspired by the work of colleagues in TCS.
Another climate adaptation specialist in the top eight is Lisa Graichen, Climate Adaptation Program Coordinator for UNH Cooperative Extension and New Hampshire Sea Grant.
When asked why she eagerly renewed she said, “TCS has given me the opportunity to connect with coastal management professionals around the country and hone my communications skills by participating in the Communications Subcommittee”.
Personally, I have been very impressed by Lisa’s well-researched articles and interviews. Her writing is engaging for non-scientists and read and shared widely by members and non-members alike. Lisa has astutely used her volunteer time with TCS to strategically grow professionally and she is a great model for all our members hoping to do the same.
Lisa is hoping 2018 will be a year that “we can learn from last year’s incredibly impactful hurricane season and make progress in our preparedness and response”. She thinks “we can elevate the climate conversation so that rebuilding decisions are smart, forward-thinking, and equitable.”
With his eye always on the professional development of TCS members, Tom Bigford, Past TCS President and retired from NOAA and the American Fisheries Society, hopes TCS can increase member participation in 2018 so our society can continue and even expand efforts to mentor the next generation of coastal professionals.
Writing earnestly, Tom revealed, “TCS provided just that type of assistance when I transitioned from grad school to professional life. I started in the natural sciences (I was a crab ecologist!) so TCS offered the extension I needed as I sought a more interdisciplinary career. TCS is the sole reason I had a very rewarding 43-year career. Now in retirement I plan to remain involved any way I can.”
Ellen Gordon, a freelance writer and editor (mostly retired), has been a TCS member since her graduate school days when she found the Society a great help “meeting all sorts of folks already in coastal careers”.
She promptly renewed her TCS membership because she values the connections made, and wants to help support the Society’s continued work fostering dialogue and communications in the coastal area. Ellen was the last editor of the TCS Bulletin (now the TCS Blog) and is excited by the advances in social media TCS has made. “Really love those Twitter posts!”, she exclaimed.
A treasure trove of knowledge and experience is available to all TCS members—Charter members who created TCS in the 1970s. Don Davis stressed this to me in that he has found we learn through reading, experience (including in laboratories), and talking to people. The talking to people being most critical.
While Don believes that our job listings “in itself is worth the price of being a member,” the biggest value TCS brings is being a bridge for those seasoned coastal professionals and those starting out.
In talking to Don, a geologist and cultural geographer, I could find he has a big heart for the people his work serves. Coastal peoples. Professionals and coastal communities. I could tell his desire for better connections among coastal peoples is a decades long desire.
Don has close ties with Acadians, a U.S. cultural group that is perhaps the last generation not to live more than 30 miles from home. Don implores us to include the cultures of coastal peoples in addressing planned retreat. “Resiliency is tattooed to their soul.”
Don wraps up the sentiments of the eight members to renew for 2018 best: “TCS weaves the tapestry of all these things together. I don’t know your age or background. Do I like TCS? Yes ma’am! I do.”
I am renewing this month because I would hate to lose touch with these coastal champions, and with you. Keep the U.S. coastal network strong. Please renew your membership or join today.