Swann appointed to Ocean Research Advisory Panel

LaDon Swann

LaDon Swann

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium Director LaDon Swann has been selected to serve on the Ocean Research Advisory Panel (OARP). The panel advises the National Ocean Research Leadership Council and provides independent recommendations about ocean research and related issues to the federal government.

Swann’s appointment is for a four-year term. Members of the panel represent the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, ocean industries, state governments, academia and others, including individuals who are eminent in the fields of marine science, marine policy, or related fields, including ocean resource management.

The panel’s duties include providing advice in several areas, including policies and procedures to implement the National Oceanographic Partnership Program; selection of partnership projects and allocation of funds for partnership projects for implementation under the program; and matters relating to the national oceanographic data requirements. The panel also fulfills any additional responsibilities that the National Ocean Research Leadership Council considers appropriate.

The ORAP is an advisory committee under the Federal Advisory Committee Act and is the only FACA body chartered to advise all the ocean agencies.

The panel has no more than 18 members and no less than 10. Members are appointed by the Chairman of the Council, and the appointments are renewed on an annual basis by the Secretary of Defense.

Swann is also the director of marine programs for Auburn University.

Graham to share oil spill research

Larissa Graham

Larissa Graham

Larissa Graham has joined the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium and Auburn University’s Marine Extension and Research Center as a Gulf of Mexico oil spill extension specialist.

Each Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant program has hired an oil spill science extension specialist as part of a $1.5-million program funded through the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). The four extension specialists will work as a team to create education programs to share GoMRI-funded oil spill research results with groups who depend on a healthy Gulf of Mexico for their livelihoods.

“Larissa has an exceptionally strong background as an adult educator, and she knows how to work with science and diverse audiences,” said LaDon Swann, director of Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant and Auburn University Marine Programs.

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative was created in 2010 with $500 million to invest over a 10-year period to investigate oil spill science topics and impacts of the spill. Universities across the United States are conducting research, which may also focus on improving mitigation and remediation technologies.

Chuck Wilson, GoMRI’s chief scientific officer and former Louisiana Sea Grant director, said Sea Grant has a rich history of working with science and reaching the audiences that use science-based information. 

“There are very few, if any, organizations that have the capacity inherent in Sea Grant’s extension network,” he said.

Graham is a trained facilitator and has experience developing and evaluating outreach programs for various audiences. She has worked with Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Mississippi and the New York Sea Grant College Program. She has a master’s degree in fisheries and wildlife science from Virginia Tech.

“There is a lot of valuable information that is coming out of the GoMRI-funded research projects looking at the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the environment and public health,” Graham said. “It is important that those results and products are provided to the different audiences that can use the information.”

Graham can be reached at Larissa.graham@auburn.edu.

Corpus Christi recognized as leader in climate planning

The Gulf of Mexico Climate Outreach Community of Practice has awarded the 2014 Gulf of Mexico Spirit of Community Award for the local community category to Corpus Christi, Texas.

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Heather Wade, left, a Coastal Planning Specialist with the Texas Sea Grant College Program and member of the Gulf of Mexico Climate Outreach Community of Practice, presents Danielle Converse, Environmental Services Superintendent with the City of Corpus Christi’s Office of Environmental and Strategic Initiatives, with the Spirit of Community Award on April 9 in Orange Beach, Ala.

Members of the community of practice, a group of professionals in the Gulf who work together to learn how coastal communities can adapt to sea-level rise, precipitation changes and other climate-related issues, selected Corpus Christi for the award to recognize its leadership in planning for climate change.

“The creation of Corpus Christi’s Integrated Community Sustainability Plan was a data-driven process conducted by an interdisciplinary team with input from city decision makers and community stakeholders at every step,” said Heather Wade, Coastal Planning Specialist with the Texas Sea Grant College Program. “It generated implementation recommendations on topics from climate to urban agriculture to bicycle trails in the form of\action items that range from no-cost community-based activities to major capital improvements to the city.”

Corpus Christi participates in other resilience activities through Texas Sea Grant, the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Texas Nature Conservancy. The city also has a presence at public events and aims to educate the public on issues related to climate, such as coastal hazards, drought and water conservation.

The Gulf of Mexico Climate Outreach Community of Practice is made up of more than 400 education, outreach and extension professionals, as well as community leaders and planners, whose work includes contributing to the resilience of coastal communities.

The award has special meaning because recipients must be nominated by their colleagues and voting is open to all members of the Climate Outreach Community of Practice in the entire Gulf of Mexico.

Corpus Christi was applauded for its climate-change outreach and planning efforts during the group’s annual meeting April 9 in Orange Beach, Ala.

For more information, see http://masgc.org/climate-outreach-community-of-practice.

Hanisko recognized for leadership in climate field

The Gulf of Mexico Climate Outreach Community of Practice has awarded the 2014 Gulf of Mexico Spirit of Community Award to Marian Hanisko, a coastal management specialist on contract with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Gulf Coast Services Center and an Ocean Springs, Miss., resident. Her peers in this professional group selected her as the colleague most deserving of recognition for leadership in climate issues. Hanisko organizes climate-related webinars that allow for distance learning training, helps users explore climate-related tools, and facilitates meetings across the region.

award presentation

Niki Pace, right, research counsel for the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program presents Marian Hanisko, left, with the Spirit of Community Award on April 9 in Orange Beach, Ala.

The Gulf of Mexico Climate Community of Practice is made up of more than 400 education, outreach and extension professionals, as well as community leaders and planners, whose work includes contributing to the resilience of coastal communities.

The Gulf of Mexico Climate Community of Practice brings together extension, outreach and education professionals and community officials in the Gulf to learn how coastal communities can adapt to sea-level rise, precipitation changes and other climate-related issues. Members work together so that they can be better equipped with reliable information and science-based guidance regarding the level of risk to their communities and strategies they can use to adapt to climate change.

The award has special meaning because recipients must be nominated by their colleagues and voting is open to all members of the Climate Community of Practice in the entire Gulf of Mexico.

“Marian works well with others, and as a Mississippi resident and former Coastal Training Program Coordinator with the Grand Bay NERR, she understands the attitudes, perceptions and beliefs of local Gulf communities,” said Niki Pace, research counsel for the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant.

Hanisko was applauded for her climate-change outreach efforts during the annual meeting April 9 in Orange Beach, Ala.

Four positions open for new Sea Grant oil spill science outreach program in Gulf

The four Sea Grant College Programs of the Gulf of Mexico are pleased to release this announcement for four non-tenured track, 12-month, two-year limited term, grant funded positions related to a new oil spill science outreach program. The oil spill science outreach program will focus on the two-way transfer of information between (1) the people whose livelihoods depend on a healthy Gulf of Mexico or who are involved in the protection and management of Gulf of Mexico coastal and marine resources; and (2) the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative scientists, administrators and board of directors. The candidate selected for this position must be able to understand and translate technical oil spill science results in a particular focus area (biology, chemistry, physics or public health) for diverse audiences; engage with people with different perspectives; lead and facilitate public meetings, seminars and workshops; and perform other duties as assigned.

Each outreach position will be based in a different state, report directly to their state program and the regional outreach manager and work regionally as a team. Travel throughout the Gulf of Mexico and beyond is expected. Outreach positions will likely be based in the Florida panhandle; Mobile, Alabama; Baton Rouge or Louisiana coastal zone; and Corpus Christi, Texas. Only one person will be hired by each Sea Grant College Program and separate, completed applications must be submitted to each Sea Grant College Program in which the applicant is willing to work. Applicants can apply to as many positions as desired. Only complete application packages will be considered.

Links to each of the positions are below:

Florida-based position via University of Florida (Florida Sea Grant College Program): https://jobs.ufl.edu/postings/49894
The University of Florida is an Equal Opportunity Institution dedicated to building a broadly diverse and inclusive faculty and staff.

Louisiana-based position via Louisiana State University (Louisiana Sea Grant College Program): https://lsusystemcareers.lsu.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=57422.
THE LSU SYSTEM IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY/EQUAL ACCESS EMPLOYER

Alabama-based position via Auburn University (Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium): http://aufacultypositions.peopleadmin.com/postings/425
Auburn University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. Women and Minorities are encouraged to apply.

Texas-based position via Texas A and M University (Texas Sea Grant College Program): https://jobpath.tamu.edu/postings/68146
The Texas A&M System is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer committed to diversity.

Floodplain managers come together to plan for flood insurance challenges

Image(BILOXI, Miss.) — Changes to the National Flood Insurance Program are raising many questions about how much flood insurance premium will increase, when those increases will take place, and what communities must do to retain discounts for residents through a program called the Community Rating System.

Professionals who work closely with flood management issues in Mississippi’s coastal counties attended a workshop Aug. 14 to learn about the National Flood Insurance Program Reform Act of 2012, also known as the Biggert-Waters Act, and what it will mean for property owners.

Representatives from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Insurance Services Office, and the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program met at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center to talk with local floodplain managers and Community Rating System coordinators about changes to the National Flood Insurance Program. During the workshop, speakers identified ways communities can maintain their status in the Community Rating System, explained what the new law means for flood insurance premiums in local communities and discussed pending legislation that would make changes to the Biggert-Waters Act.

It was clear that information about the changes hadn’t yet trickled down to the local level, and even FEMA was waiting for more details from the federal government.

Kristin Greger, Biloxi’s CRS coordinator, is in charge of identifying and implementing ways that Biloxi can earn points in the CRS program. Those points affect the rating that determines what level of discounts, if any, are offered to flood insurance policy holders.

One way communities earn points is to have a team of floodplain managers from different cities and counties that works together to inform residents about ways to reduce flooding hazards and how to protect their property.

The Coast has an active group called C-HOST, which stands for Coastal Hazards Outreach Strategy Team. Communities receive points in the CRS program for outreach activities. Under the new guidelines, they will have to modify their team into a Program for Public Information and make some changes. At the workshop, Greger learned how they can transition the group.

“We can keep a lot of the points we already get for Community Rating System credits, and earn additional ones because the new guidelines help create an outreach program that is a lot more influential,” she said.

Josh Hayes, Bay St. Louis floodplain manager and building inspector, said the workshop included frank discussion about the hot topic of flood insurance.

“All the cards were on the table,” he said. “This is where questions got answered.”

Workshop participants identified challenges they face trying to deliver information about flood insurance and flood risks to residents and community leaders.

“We know what we want to accomplish through communication and outreach,” Hayes said. “Floodplain management is a mystery to most residents. Homeowners don’t know about it.”

Realtors, insurance agents, lenders, homeowners, floodplain managers and community leaders are all groups that are on the front lines with residents, and the C-HOST organization would like to work with all of those groups to make everyone more informed about risks and ways to reduce them.

The Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, the NOAA Coastal Services Center and the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium organized and facilitated the workshop.

LSU’s CERA Interactive Website Can Save Lives During a Hurricane

The 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season began June 1, and it’s expected to be an exceptionally busy year. There are tools, however, that can help mitigate a hurricane’s impact. Drawing on the resources of Louisiana State University’s Center for Computation & Technology, scientists at the LSU School of the Coast & Environment have developed the Coastal Emergency Risks Assessment interactive website system (CERA) to visualize several parameters from the ADCIRC Coastal Circulation and Storm Surge Model during an active hurricane. These parameters include storm surge, wind speed, water inundation above ground and other. Click for more information.