…Today and 20 years in the future
(Highlights from the breakout groups Q&A session with people from the national office, NOAA agencies, SGA and advisory panel)
Q. If the national office had more money what would you do strategically to leverage it? How can we be better used – and well paid for it?
Leon Cammen, national Sea Grant director: “We’re looking to put more effort into engaging with other parts of NOAA and other federal agencies. There are a lot of things we do to keep the trains running; what we’re missing are these opportunities … where we have a chance to do something and we don’t have the personnel to do it. … If anyone out there is interested in coming to DC for a while, let us know. We can set up IPAs.”
Jon Pennock:, New Hampshire Sea Grant Director: “You all are doing a right good job of that at the state level … We do have to figure out how to do that more at the federal level more. (But) you cannot sent a junior officer to effectively represent you on the Hill.” (Sea Grant needs) “captain-level people, at least, to talk to the generals. And that means we’ve got to deal with how we staff the program at the federal level to … be more effective at the federal level.”
Paul Sandifer, NOAA Fisheries: “One way to maximize the reach of new federal dollars would be to partner with other federal agencies – USGS, EPA, FEMA, etc. – and do joint announcements or joint projects. That allows you in the Sea Grant community to apply for more resources and more effective.”
Q. How do we change the culture in NOAA that appreciates but doesn’t promote Sea Grant?
Craig McLean, OAR: “I think the honest answer may be twofold. There are programs that might seek to compete with Sea Grant … in order get the win. It’s not unique to NOAA, I think we’re doing a good job of extinguishing that behavior but it’s not gone… Part of the reason …is the belief ” get the money before they do” but also “‘They’re not really in this for the same reason I am.” Alignment of the Sea Grant strategic plan with NOAA strategic planning is a step in the right direction.”
Margaret Davidson, OAR: “Your colleagues in the Gulf have gone a long way to raise the understanding of what the network arrangement is all about and what it can do for the program. … While it doesn’t look so hot on the outside you’ve actually done better than some NOAA programs have done on the inside. There is an effort in the proposed Climate Service to put some direct funding to Sea Grant.”
Q. Sea Grant programs are already leveraging a lot of funds to help us do work … As we go forward doing this how do we maintain the essence of what Sea Grant is? You start having to answer to other progams, reporting to them – how do we hang onto what we are?
Gordon Grau, SGA: “Be very clear about what you want to do. All of us have to render unto Caesar; there’s always going to be the element of having to please several masters. We formed what we call centers of excellence – partnerships between us and other departments or programs in the university. but we matched our agenda with theirs so we had a joint agenda from the start.
Paul Sandifer: “It’s critical not only to know what you want to do but think about the activities in the Sea Grant program. The strength of Sea Grant … has always been its multiple focus). We’ve talked a lot about the extension function and how it could support the Climate Service and communities… but the science part of this is also very important. In some cases that means finding other people’s money to do the kind of science we want to do…and hopefully meet regional and national goals. Relate all of these back to the national drivers we’re all dealing with. I think you can build great opportunities if you’ve got $1 and can go connect that with somebody else’s $8 or $9 .”
Jon Pennock, New Hampshire Sea Grant director: ” The state programs have done a good job of it but we haven’t done it at the highest level – and we’re in a good position to do that.