John Fear headshot

John Fear, Deputy Director, North Carolina Sea Grant. Photo by Vanda Lewis.

Greetings and salutations.

Susan White is taking a break from her letter-writing duties this summer. This affords me the chance to step in and address our Coastwatch readers. I am very thankful for this opportunity — and the many other experiences that I have embraced since joining the North Carolina Sea Grant family as deputy director in January.

I have had the great pleasure of
 getting to know many of our program’s
 wonderful supporters over the past few 
months, and look forward to meeting 
many more of you in the near future. 
I truly believe that the Coastwatch audience is one of our best assets. Please reach out to me at or 919-515-9104 if you have ideas on how we can grow and enhance our program or if you just want to say hello.

In Susan’s last letter, she highlighted our North Carolina Sea Grant Research Symposium: Investments and Opportunities. I am pleased to report that the event was a resounding success. We had 137 attendees, 15 presentations by Sea Grant researchers and extension specialists, and 20 student poster presentations. Through small discussion sessions, we received direct feedback from a diverse group of stakeholders on where we should invest our research dollars.

To bring this learning session full circle, Sea Grant is planning
 to release a special call for proposals in July that will focus on the priorities identified at the symposium. Our ability to work directly with stakeholders and to quickly respond to their feedback in our operational programming is unique — and is one of our program’s great strengths. Watch for a news release with details and deadlines on the special call.

Sea Grant funds applied research that can help us better manage our natural resources, educate our population, and live and work sustainably in the coastal region. You will find several stories in this issue 
of Coastwatch that share ongoing fieldwork and research results.

We also have initiated
 an effort to better integrate our research with our extension
and communication activities. Designated extension and communications staff members will serve as outreach liaisons for each of our newly funded 2014 core projects. Researchers will have a dedicated specialist with whom they can discuss project activities and results throughout the entire study timeline. I hope that these conversations will enhance the flow of information from funded projects into Sea Grant’s extension and communication activities and ultimately to agencies, communities and industry organizations.

I am very excited about this new effort and look forward to seeing how it will enhance our ability to support communities, economies and ecosystems.

There are many ways for you to be a part of and contribute to our Sea Grant program, including volunteer opportunities, attending a Sea Grant-sponsored event and writing for Coastwatch. If you have the time and energy, we would love for you to help support us.

I wish all of you a safe and enjoyable summer. To help you along that path, check out stories in this issue on beach safety and new options for visiting the coastal region.

This letter was published in the Summer 2014 issue of Coastwatch.

— John Fear, Deputy Director, North Carolina Sea Grant