Susan White and her sons enjoyed the recent Wings Over Water weekend.
Courtesy Susan White.

Thankfulness is my year-round state of mind.

In life, all things must change and evolve to fit current and future anticipated needs.

From team retirements and departures to welcoming new partners, North Carolina Sea Grant has experienced its fair share of change this year — and will continue to do so in the coming year.

In 2017, we said goodbye to team members with a combined total of more than eight decades of service to our program and the state. The list includes Sandra Harris and Vanda Lewis, two long-serving members of our team, as well as Coastwtach managing editor E-Ching Lee. Find out more about Sandra and Vanda on page 27.

At the same time, we are welcoming new partners through collaborations with North Carolina Space Grant. In the coming months, we look forward to new perspectives from incoming hires for our extension director and communications team.

Change also comes through identifying a new suite of research collaborations. These partnerships continue to strengthen Sea Grant’s critical connection to the needs of communities across our coastal regions, as well as with the interests of young scientists in the making.

Some may find regular cycles of change challenging. Personally, I find them invigorating for this program, as well as for the individuals who are change-makers, both past and future!

The opportunities to integrate new ideas, new energy and new perspectives enable Sea Grant to be responsive to our team’s need to grow. Fresh input also allows the program to collaborate in different ways with our many partners and the variety of coastal interests at our collective table.

I am thankful for the opportunity I have had to continue to learn from our team this year and look forward to new opportunities to do so in the coming year.

As we close out the 2017 hurricane season, I also am thankful that North Carolina’s direct storm impacts were minimal this year as our state continues to rebuild and recover from the storms of 2016. The National Sea Grant network, including our North Carolina team, is working closely to support each program’s response and recovery actions to the series of severe hurricanes across the Atlantic, Gulf and Caribbean coasts. These efforts move forward at the same time we still are addressing the long-term needs of communities post-Hurricane Matthew here and in other states.

The short- and long-term recovery needs of communities across the nation will continue to shape local, state and national policy. Activities could include developing best practices to implement proactive storm preparedness. We also seek to understand the reality of what response and recovery actions are most effective from local and national perspectives. And we continue to finely tune the ever-evolving chorus of risk communications designed to save lives and property.

I am thankful for the overall excellence that underpins the work of our team and partners. These efforts highlight the positive impacts that individuals and communities along the coast and throughout the watersheds have made — and will continue to make — in so many places that we treasure.

I am thankful we can, and will, continue to share these coastal stories with you. In the year ahead, I hope that you will have many opportunities to experience the steady rhythms of our coast, mixed with the constant change that time brings to all things.

I wish you and your family all the best this coming year! I am thankful for your ongoing support for North Carolina Sea Grant. If you have coastal stories to share, you can reach me at I always enjoy hearing from you.