Letter from the Executive Director

Shifting Seasons, Ongoing Challenges, New Opportunities

I hope that you and your families continue to stay healthy during these difficult times. Our continuing thanks go out to health care and teacher heroes — including those in health care facilities, schools, and homes. There are countless other heroes that ensure our communities continue to thrive. We thank all of you as well.

While there is no “new normal” yet that I can find with my 3rd and 5th graders’ schooling from home, I certainly am reminded daily to appreciate the time with family — and I look forward to days when we can all get back together with our extended families, as well as friends and colleagues. I also am reminded daily to practice patience and grace within our home and within our communities, as dealing with continuing uncertainties brings enormous stress for everyone.

Susan White

Susan White

It is clear that our great North Carolina Sea Grant team members and partners continue to help meet the needs of our communities with new updates for direct seafood sale opportunities and strong resources on seasonal safety and hurricane preparedness, as well as continuing to provide subject matter and support for online learning. This issue of Coastwatch, in fact, includes supplementary online material for educators to use alongside magazine content in their virtual classrooms.

In this issue, you also will learn of new projects we have funded with support from the William R. Kenan Jr. Institute for Engineering, Technology and Science and the N.C. Water Resources Research Institute. These exciting new partnerships include one with North Carolina Health News and Working Narratives/Coastal Youth Media that allows our program to incorporate new audiences and needs related to coastal communities. We welcome these opportunities to continue to strengthen our program’s engagement with, and understanding of, diverse North Carolina communities throughout the coastal regions and related watersheds.

One of the happy constants for us is the ongoing excellence of student fellows, who are pursuing their research passions and providing actionable information for individuals and communities to improve their environmental and personal health. Our fellows bring significant breadth and depth of subject areas — and Sea Grant benefits from their engagement and commitment. Often these students graduate and become leaders in their field, sometimes even within Sea Grant programs across the nation. It is a pleasure to see their professional growth during and after their time with our program.

Autumn 2020 cover of CoastwatchI am excited to welcome Eric Herbst, our new coastal aquaculture specialist, as well as congratulate Sarah Spiegler, who will continue with our program and provide her expertise as our new coastal resilience specialist. It is exciting to have Eric and Sarah bring new perspectives and experiences that will strengthen our community service.

In continuing good news, North Carolina Sea Grant hosted an external panel of reviewers in September 2018 to meet federal requirements. We recently were notified that our program not only meets but exceeds required standards of excellence for state programs. Thus, we are federally recertified as a state Sea Grant College Program. Notably, the panel was very impressed with engagement of our advisory board and their impactful role in providing input to help prioritize needs, make informed decisions, evaluate initiatives, and advocate for the program. The reviewers noted our Sea Grant advisory board as an asset to be recognized as a best management practice. The panel also noted that our program is a trusted partner of an impressive number of stakeholders, with our extension staff involved in numerous leadership roles at state and national levels.

We look forward to the autumn season and wish the best to all of you in this most unusual year. If you have topics of interest, please send me an email at snwhite3@ncsu.edu.

— Susan White, Executive Director, North Carolina Sea Grant

from the Autumn 2020 issue of Coastwatch