Susan White, Executive Director, North Carolina Sea Grant. Photo courtesy Roger Winstead.

Susan White, Executive Director, North Carolina Sea Grant. Photo Roger Winstead.

Fall may well be my favorite time of the year. The weather cools down, school rolls back in and vacations have left us with refreshed energies. The North Carolina Sea Grant team and our many partners are primed and ready to hit the ground running for a new academic year of excellent science, education and collaborations. Now’s our time to look forward together to address needs and provide solutions that will benefit our state’s coastal resources and communities.

I am pleased to announce that Sea Grant has received an award through the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology and Science (KIETS) program at North Carolina State University. The funding will support a new program that we are calling the North Carolina Sea Grant Community Collaborative Research Grant Program. The Community Collaborative program will provide grants for teams consisting of individuals and communities with local ecosystem knowledge and research experts. Together, they will address the state’s high-priority coastal issues across a range of academic programs, including natural and social sciences, education, and business management.

I anticipate that this grant program will address community and state needs in resource management. The funding will build on our program’s long-term experience and success with the N.C. Fishery Research Grant Program and the N.C. Blue Crab and Shellfish Research Program. We hope it will expand Sea Grant’s investments in fisheries, as well as other community priority needs along our coast. I anticipate that a call for research proposals for the Community Collaborative program will be announced in autumn or winter 2015.

In addition, we are selecting recipients for the 2016–2018 core research awards. I look forward to sharing the projects with you. Check for these research-related updates.

Sea Grant also supports science literacy in our high schools. North Carolina will be hosting the National Ocean Sciences Bowl in April 2016 in Morehead City. I have been invited to join the host committee, which provides strategic advice on competition plans and suggests regional ocean-related activities for students. The team will collaborate with local community members who support ocean science education and career development for young people.

Event hosts are the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institute of Marine Sciences, Carteret Community College, and Seahorse Coastal Consulting. The 2016 theme is Our Changing Ocean: Science for Strong Coastal Communities.

In the remaining months of the year, Sea Grant will be updating our strategic plan, kicking off with listening sessions this autumn in communities across our coast, as well as inland. We are looking to capture the breadth of interests from the many stakeholders and partners that are invested in our coast. We are seeking input on priority research, outreach and educational needs that will help us design our program and direct our resources in the coming years.

There will be multiple opportunities for you to provide feedback, including a brief online survey, available in spring 2016. I’m mentioning this now so you can start thinking about how our program and partners can strategically address North Carolina’s needs. I hope that you will take a moment to give us your constructive suggestions during this planning period. In addition, you can reach out to me at any time at or 919-515-2455.

We at Sea Grant like to “walk the talk,” including eating all sorts of locally caught seafood whenever and wherever possible, swimming at a distance from fishing piers to avoid sharks, and exploring hidden gems and local towns across the state’s coastal plain. In fact, in September our advisory board and staff members will be boating down the Roanoke River outside of Plymouth — following the Cut the Corner path recommendations starting on page 30. Fall’s the time to hike, bird and paddle in North Carolina. I invite you to join me at the coast this season!

This article was published in the Autumn 2015 issue of Coastwatch.

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