Oregon Sea Grant receives $2.6 million NSF grant for learning research

Oregon Sea Grant director Stephen Brandt announced the award of a $2.6 million, five-year, National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to support the creation of a free-choice learning lab at the Hatfield Marine Science Center Visitor Center in Newport. The grant is the largest single research award to Oregon Sea Grant in its 40-year history and among the largest ever awarded to a Sea Grant program nationwide.  Free-choice learning is the study of how people learn across the lifespan and across contexts where they have choice and control over that learning.

“Studying how people learn is critical to Sea Grant because it can help us to understand how best to communicate with the diverse public audiences who rely on us for research and education related to ocean and aquatic issues,” Brandt said.

The research project will be led by Shawn Rowe, a faculty member in both Sea Grant and the OSU College of Education.

Read the entire OSU news release.

Oregon Sea Grant free-choice learning researcher, Shawn Rowe, is leader of the new NSF research grant that will spawn new learning innovations at the Hatfield Marine Science Center (pictured), where 150,000 visit each year.


Oregon Sea Grant on YouTube: Buying fresh tuna

Kaety Hildenbrand of Oregon Sea Grant Extension shows how to buy an Albacore tuna directly from a commercial fisherman: what questions to ask, what to expect, and what you need to bring to get your fish home safely. Fresh, nutritious seafood is widely regarded as a good dietary choice to promote health, and visitors to coastal docks often see signs for fisher-sold catch. The 5-minute video puts fish, fishers, and consumers together.

The video is one of 13 short  subjects on the Oregon Sea Grant YouTube channel.

Sea Grant-funded historian’s book on fisheries management published

Carmel Finley, an instructor in the OSU History Department, is receiving positive attention for her new book published by University of Chicago Press, All the Fish in the Sea – Maximum Sustainable Yield and the Failure of Fisheries Management. One reviewer commented that the book “explodes the myths around MSY” (maximum sustainable yield) — a significant consideration since MSY is at the heart of modern American fisheries management. Another reviewer noted that “fisheries science and management are ripe for study by professional historians” and praised Finley’s book.

Locally, public radio station KLCC interviewed her, which was a role reversal for Finley, who was the Oregonian’s coastal correspondent for  years prior to graduate school and her doctorate at UC San Diego (where she received support from Sea Grant). Back in Oregon, OSG supported her to develop the Pacific Fishery History Project web site. She also contributed an article in OSG’s new salmon book, Pathways to Resilience, on “The Social Construction of Fishing, 1949.”

September 17 Proclaimed “Oregon Sea Grant Day” by Governor Kitzhaber

Oregon Sea Grant chartering, 1971

Oregon Sea Grant, the coastal and marine research and education program based at Oregon State University (OSU), celebrates its fortieth anniversary September 17, and Governor John Kitzhaber has proclaimed the date “Oregon Sea Grant Day.”

(Read the proclamation – .pdf format)

The proclamation recognizes the program for forging a “dynamic partnership” with the Oregon University System, the State of Oregon, Oregon coastal communities, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) since September 1971.

“Oregon Sea Grant funds top-quality research with high relevance to society,” the proclamation reads, “as part of an integrated program of research, education, Extension, and public science communication.”

Many Oregonians come in contact with the program at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, through the public education and free-choice learning activities which  Sea Grant leads.  Over the last 40 years these programs have engaged more than 11 million visitors and hundreds of thousands of Oregon school children.

Still others are familiar with Sea Grant from contact with its OSU Extension faculty, many of them located in coastal communities. The program also produces publications, videos, and Web-based media on a wide range of ocean and coastal topics, from tsunamis to fisheries and from healthy ecosystems to the effects of climate change.

“Everything we do is intended to help Oregonians understand, conserve, and wisely use ocean and coastal resources,” said Stephen Brandt, Sea Grant director. “That mission has been a constant.”

OSU President Ed Ray acknowledged the Governor’s day, offering Brandt his congratulations “for this most appropriate recognition of such an important and accomplished program.”

Although Sea Grant had begun in Oregon in 1968, in 1971, when the program was officially designated a “college program” under NOAA, OSU President Robert MacVicar journeyed to Washington, D.C. to meet personally with federal officials, among them Robert Abel, then director of the national office of Sea Grant. Abel lauded Oregon Sea Grant for the “highest degree of effectiveness in its program.”

Oregon’s federal funding was the largest of the four programs designated in 1971 (others were in Washington, Texas, and Rhode Island.) Today Sea Grant programs are found in every coastal state; and Oregon’s is still widely considered one of the very top programs.

View a slideshow of historic Sea Grant photos on Flickr

Sea Grant community assistance on climate changes: new article

The Western Rural Development Center’s June issue of its Rural Connections magazine focuses on “climate change adaptations” and features a story about Sea Grant assistance in two Oregon coast communities dealing with effects of a changing climate. The communities aren’t named in the article [download the pdf] because the focus is on the different approaches taken in them, labelled for contrast as “classical” and “jazz.”

“Adapting to climate change will likely require a variety of approaches, as every community will have different needs, priorities, and resources,” write Joe Cone, Jenna Borberg, and Miriah Russo. “Outreach and engagement professionals have a variety of methodologies that can be employed,” and the Sea Grant authors hope the description of their approaches will stimulate their peers and ultimately lead to successful local climate adaptations.


OSG Specialist Named to Important Role in Fishery Management

Jeffrey N. Feldner has been appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to the Pacific Fishery Management Council for a three-year term that starts in August. Feldner, an Oregon Sea Grant Extension faculty member based in Newport, will serve as an “at-large” member of the Pacific Council—and does not officially represent Sea Grant nor Oregon State University. The Council, one of eight regional councils established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, prepare fishery management plans for marine fish stocks in their regions.

Jeff Feldner (photo: Lynn Ketchum, EESC)

Feldner has been an Oregon commercial fisherman since the 1970s and a Sea Grant fisheries specialist since 2006. He takes his council place along with other members from Oregon, California, Idaho, and Washington. NOAA’s Fisheries Service annually solicits nominations from the governors of fishing states and oversees the annual appointment process. The Secretary must select council members from the list of nominees provided by the governors to fill council seats that have become available due to an expiring term, a resignation or other reasons.

Interviewing to Understand the Mental Models of Others

All professionals conduct interviews, often to determine what another person understands, feels, believes, or is willing to discuss about topics of interest.  The new Sea Grant publication, Mental Models Interviewing, is intended to help professionals such as agency officials, university outreach/extension specialists, and social science researchers interview more effectively by  providing a structure grounded in behavioral and communication research.

Just as a model airplane is a representation of a real airplane, so are mental models representations in our minds of something real. The question we’re trying to answer in mental models interviewing is, how does this other person put together this reality? A model airplane comes in a box full of pieces; what do interviewees perceive as being in the “box” of the topic at hand, and how do they think the pieces fit together? More precisely, interviewers often want to know how interviewees understand causes and effects.

Mental Models Interviewing describes the technique and answers the questions “What am I listening for?” and “How am I listening?”

To Order:

Title: Mental Models Interviewing
Oregon Sea Grant Product No.: ORESU-H-11-002
12 pages, color cover, B&W insides
Price: $2.50, plus shipping & handling as follows: first copy, $2.00; each additional copy, $1.00 For prices on 11 or more copies, please call 541-737-4849.

You may order this publication through Oregon Sea Grant’s e-Commerce Web site, or download a .pdf or text version for free.

Feb. 12 for Fossils at HMSC

In the spirit of the Public Broadcasting’s  “Antiques Road Show,”  the Hatfield Marine Science Center plays host to your natural antiques, Saturday, Feb. 12, in Newport. At the 12th annual Fossil Fest, visitors are invited to bring in fossils or other beach finds for identification by Oregon’s preeminent paleontologist, Dr. William Orr. Co-author of Oregon Fossils, Dr. Orr will also present a lecture on “Digging up the Kings Valley Groundsloth,” at 1:30 p.m. Other Fossil Fest activities include a fossil swap and special displays staffed by the North American Research Group. The Hatfield Marine Science Visitor Center, managed by Oregon Sea Grant, is open  10-4; admission is by suggested donation.

New Podcast Interview about climate change and cultural values

We all have preferences about how society should be ordered, and whether we believe in hierarchy and individualism or are egalitarian and value community, those cultural values shape our reception to science and communication about science. Listen to a two-part interview with Dan Kahan of Yale Law School, conducted by Joe Cone of Oregon Sea Grant, part of Communicating Climate Change, a series of discussions intended primarily for those serious about doing just that.

Maximum height of extreme waves up dramatically

An OSU news release highlights  the research of OSU and Sea Grant researcher, Peter Ruggiero, whose work puts climate-change-related sea-level rise into a broader perspective: “A major increase in maximum ocean wave heights off the Pacific Northwest in recent decades has forced scientists to re-evaluate how high a ‘100-year event’ might be, and the new findings raise special concerns for flooding, coastal erosion and structural damage.”