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Friday, March 5, 2010

You and the sea

Communities are the intended beneficiaries of a grants that will help programs train 'climate ambassadors'

Sea Grant programs in the North Atlantic awarded ‘Climate Engagement’
mini-Grant to help communities adapt to climate change

GROTON - A total of $25,000 has been awarded to sea Grant programs from Maine to Virginia to work with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offices to establish a regional network of “climate ambassadors” who will help local communities, according to a statement released by the University of Connecticut's Connecticut Sea Grant program.
The awards are part of eight “Climate Engagement” mini-grants from NOAA to various regions of the U.S., the statement said.
The grant will "provide training in climate outreach to staff of NOAA’s North Atlantic Regional Team and Sea Grant extension agents," it said.
Training provided by the grant will help coastal residents, businesses and decision-makers learn how their communities can best adapt to climate change, the statement said.
Sessions will cover the latest science and climate information and tools available from NOAA. Initial trainees will hold local training sessions for others in their home states, which can bring the latest information and technology back to community leaders, the statement said.
Peyton Robertson, NOAA North Atlantic Regional Team leader and Sylvain De Guise, director of the Connecticut Sea Grant College Program at UConn, will lead the effort in the Northeast region. De Guise is Sea Grant’s representative to the NOAA North Atlantic Regional Team.
The "Climate Engagement Mini-Grant Program is modeled after the NOAA Stakeholder Engagement Mini-Grant program, which distributed grants in 2009 to fund regional pilot projects engaging communities in issues of interest to both NOAA and local residents," the statement said.
The goal of the new program is to leverage NOAA and Sea Grant resources to help coastal communities adapt to climate change, it said.
“Since our Sea Grant researchers and extension agents serve the local coastal communities in which they live, Sea Grant is well-suited to connect NOAA science to the needs of local coastal communities,” Leon Cammen, director of the NOAA National Sea Grant College Program said in the statement. “Issues related to climate change are a Sea Grant priority.”
Juliana Barrett, an assistant educator for the UConn Department of Extension and Connecticut Sea Grant focusing on coastal habitats, and part of UConn’s Center for Land Use Education and Research team, works with CTSG, includes coordinating climate change efforts, the statement said. "Through new and existing program initiatives, CTSG is emphasizing climate change as a cross-cutting theme which informs its outreach, extension, education and communication activities as well as its targeted research funding program," it said.

Developing strategies for communicating the uncertainties of science to stakeholders is a long-term interest of MacNeill, NYSG’s representative to NOAA’s climate-related Sectoral Applications Research Program (SARP), brings recent expertise in communicating the complex factors that affect fisheries in Great Lakes ecosystems to this climate change project. He will work with educators in the Great Lakes and national Sea Grant networks to develop ways to help coastal communities better understand potential impacts of climate change, and help communities make informed choices on potential adaptation strategies to climate change.
Barrett and David B. MacNeill, a fisheries specialist with New York Sea Grant in Oswego, N.Y., will be among those undergoing initial training at the first workshop, April 12-14, at the University of Rhode Island’s Coastal Institute in Narragansett, the statement said.
Subsequently, they and others will participate in organizing a second round of training workshops, for citizens, business, and community leaders, to be held in 2010from Maine to Virginia, the statement said.

Sea Grant is a nationwide network of 32 university-based programs that work with coastal communities, the statement said. The National Sea Grant College Program engages this network of the nation’s top universities in conducting scientific research, education, training, and extension projects designed to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of our aquatic resources, the statement said.

For more:
Connecticut Sea Grant: http://www.seagrant.uconn.edu
New York Sea Grant: http://www.seagrant.sunysb.edu
Sea Grant Sustainable Community Development web site: http://sgsccdn.ning.com/
NOAA Research: http://www.oar.noaa.gov
NOAA National Sea Grant College Program: http://www.seagrant.noaa.gov

Editor's note: The information in this post was provided by Margaret Van Patten, communications director, Connecticut Sea Grant, at UConn in Groton. It is only lightly edited here and is the work of that program.

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