Volume 4 2012

David Hart, UW Sea Grant coastal communities outreach specialist


University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Lands Coastal Storms Grant

Massive storms like the one that pounded Superior, Wis., last June bring chaos and destruction to Great Lakes coastal communities. Using a three-year grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Storms Program, the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute hopes to bring some order to fight that chaos—in the form of an outreach coordinator to integrate resources across NOAA to help communities better prepare for dangerous storms and recover from them after they hit.

“NOAA is looking for us to help them get the word out that they have these resources that help people in coastal communities improve their resilience to coastal storms,” said Phil Moy, UW Sea Grant’s assistant director for research.

Three Sea Grant programs are involved in the overall NOAA Coastal Storms grant. In addition to UW Sea Grant’s coastal storms outreach coordinator, Minnesota Sea Grant will hire a coastal storms specialist in its Minneapolis office, and Ohio Sea Grant will eventually administer a program of small grants related to coastal storms resiliency.

The new position will be based in UW Sea Grant’s Green Bay field office and will incorporate water quality and habitat restoration responsibilities. Moy anticipates filling the position in early 2013 and expects it to continue beyond the duration of the grant.

David Hart, UW Sea Grant’s coastal communities outreach specialist, pointed to the coastal hazards resilience index that came out of a NOAA Coastal Storms Program project on the Gulf Coast as an example of the type of tool that the new outreach coordinator could adapt for local officials in the Great Lakes region.

“The bigger mission and picture is that it will help people use NOAA information to be better prepared for coastal storms,” Hart said. “In our case, I think there’ll be a strong flood inundation perspective, as well as stormwater management and developing green-based infrastructure.”

Coordinating with existing groups and resources will be key to the position’s success, said Hart. “We’ve got some good skills to build on in Wisconsin, but it’s really important to acknowledge that this won’t just be an effort in our state,” said Hart. “This is a real regional effort. We have a strong legacy in Wisconsin of promoting comprehensive planning, but we have a lot to learn about how to implement effective plans to promote resilience to coastal hazards.”

Sea Grant’s Vicky Harris Honored

This spring saw accolades for Vicky Harris, retired water quality and habitat restoration outreach specialist with UW Sea Grant’s UW-Green Bay office. Harris, whose career spanned 37 years, was honored by the International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) and by UW-Green Bay.

IAGLR awarded Harris the John R. (Jack) Vallentyne Award, their highest outreach honor, at their annual meeting in Cornwall, Ontario, in May. The award is given to a person or group who has contributed substantially to educating the public and informing policy makers about Great Lakes issues, leading to protection and restoration of great lakes of the world.

“I am honored and humbled,” said Harris. “The award is especially meaningful because Jack Vallentyne and some of his contemporaries like Henry Regier, George Francis and John Magnuson had huge influences on me early in my career.”

Vallentyne was a Canadian scientist who dedicated decades of work to education and outreach, often in the character of Johnny Biosphere.

This April, Harris was given the Alumni Earth Caretaker Award by UW-Green Bay’s Environmental Management and Business Institute during its Green Innovations Conference. The award recognizes alumni who have had influential careers in sustainability and environmental fields. Harris earned degrees from UW-Green Bay in ecosystem analysis (1974) and environmental sciences (1998).

Although Harris is retired, she remains active with Sea Grant projects and the environmental scene. She is spearheading the Wisconsin Clean Marina program, a statewide effort to promote environmentally responsible boating and marina management practices.

The Aquatic Sciences Center is the administrative home of the
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute & University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute.

©2011 University of Wisconsin Board of Regents