Identifying and executing potential solutions to North Carolina’s pressing coastal resource management challenges rarely are simple tasks. But regularly pulling together thought leaders and experts from across the state to address such questions most certainly will offer steps forward — some small, some large and a few even surprising.

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

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

North Carolina Sea Grant again is pleased to host North Carolina’s Coastal Conference on April 4 and 5. We invite you to consider the science, education and partnerships that are necessary for communities and ecosystems to thrive — from our coastal watersheds, along our Inner and Outer Banks, and to our nearshore waters.

While such gatherings with a mix of industry, governmental and nongovernmental agencies, academic experts and students, and community leaders are rare, they provide prime opportunities for us to share our experiences and data. Such meetings also help us identify what we need to know about varied aspects of coastal resources, from fisheries to coastal planning, hazard preparation and coastal economics.

Exploit may seem like a harsh word in this context. But in fact, we anticipate participants will exploit learning and networking opportunities offered during daytime conference sessions and an evening program.

We will share science, education and industry advancements. From that, we expect new partnerships and teams of experts from multiple disciplines. These collaborations will address current and emerging challenges, while optimizing the benefits that we all will receive from a productive and healthy coastline.

We have been celebrating our 40th year as a full Sea Grant program in North Carolina, while the National Sea Grant Network is finishing its 50th anniversary year.

North Carolina Sea Grant has positioned itself as a trusted broker of information through the decades. Our past results and current efforts are facilitating expanded opportunities to bring together expected, and some unexpected, partners necessary for future success.

In this issue of Coastwatch, you will learn more about how our Sea Grant team is contributing to communities where so many enjoy living, working and playing together. Also, check out the sampling of our 2015-2016 program impacts on the back page — and follow the online link to learn more. These stories complement our winter issue, where you heard from current researchers and had the opportunity to reflect on program impacts through the years.

Now facing forward, we highlight the diverse expertise and overall excellence of our team members working toward goals identified in our recently updated strategic plan. Collaborating with researchers and varied partners, we will continue to generate new impacts — with impressive and important returns on investments.

North Carolina Sea Grant’s commitment to this state has not wavered in our decades of research and outreach. Now is the time to make sure you share how our efforts have benefitted your livelihoods and communities, both directly and indirectly. I look forward to hearing your perspectives as we host the second Coastal Conference, building on the success of our 2015 meeting.

If you are not able to join us in person, I encourage you to reach out. Share coastal priorities and challenges not only with me, at, but also with your elected officials to ensure that this program excels in the coming decades.

We plan to continue sharing success stories from the coast that you value as I do. Watch our website and talk with our team as we take exciting steps to realize the potential solutions presented during the 2017 conference.

Let’s move forward together for the next 50 years.

This letter was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Coastwatch.