Every winter, right around the first week of February, I start getting itchy feet. I need to get back outside, shake off the chill (well, we are in North Carolina after all), and check out what’s growing, swimming and happening along our coast. The tantalizing buds and flowers, bringing their early notes of renewal, energize me for the work we have cut out for us: to work together with partners and continue supporting North Carolina’s communities, coasts and watersheds.

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

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

Our North Carolina Sea Grant staff certainly has had a busy winter preparing for an active spring. Between these Coastwatch covers, read about the team’s expanding partnerships that will result in positive impacts for North Carolina’s communities, ecosystems and economies.

For example, we have partnerships to expand careers and workforce development in aquaculture; to develop nanotechnology applications to improve how we manage water quality and quantity; to collect baseline economic information to focus on opportunities for growth along the coast; and to continue to assist with recovery and identify lessons learned from Hurricane Matthew.

It’s not only interesting, but often instructive, to look back on the progress we’ve made, areas where focused efforts to move forward are still needed, and the wonderful storylines of coastal communities through time. In this issue, we take a moment to walk you through 43 years of stories about our coastal communities, individuals, research advances and outreach efforts. Each provides us with a picture of our state then and now.

Parallel to these past stories are current voices that reveal a snapshot of our future — research investments, technology advances, student training, education initiatives and expanded partnerships with communities.

These stories are just the tip of the iceberg showing how Sea Grant collaborates with partners in research, education and outreach to address complex challenges that require a diversity of expertise.

I invite you to interact with our many partners who will attend North Carolina’s Coastal Conference, April 4 and 5, in Raleigh. Join me at this second statewide conference, hosted by Sea Grant, in collaboration with an impressive range of academic, governmental, nonprofit and industry partners in the state. Come discuss current efforts and future needs. To learn more about the conference, sponsorship opportunities and how you can engage, turn to page 3 and also the back cover.

I find great strength in the energy and enthusiasm of our team, our numerous partners and the interests that you have in common with us. Please continue to share your thoughts and ideas with me at I look forward to seeing you at the Coastal Conference in April.

Until then, look for me bundled up at the coast, watching for those salt marshes to come to life.

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