Last weekend a number of us headed off to the Oregon coast for the FCL annual retreat. This year it was at William H. Tugman state park near Winchester Bay, OR. As true Oregonians, we stayed in yurts and ran our activities outdoors. Although a little chilly (hey, it IS the Oregon coast!), the weather was beautiful and good times were had by all.


The FCL retreat is a student-led professional development opportunity involving a number of grad student and social-centered activities. It’s also an opportunity for us to get to know each other a little better, and enjoy some hang-out time for community-building across the FCL-related programs at OSU.  Over 20 people attended this year, including Dr. Rowe, Dr. John Falk and Dr. Lynn Dierking, as well as partners, dogs and babies, which made for an academic as well as all-round family atmosphere! The annual retreat was started last year at the Oregon Hatchery Research Center in Alsea, OR, and we are hoping it will become a tradition for years to come.


Activities were centered on a variety of topics, and included

  • Team building
  • Grant writing
  • Sensory drawing
  • Principles of interpretation
  • Working with culturally and linguistically diverse populations
  • Irish dancing
  • Night hiking
  • Yoga
  • Health

Plus, a couple of extra fun campfires and lots of eating! A big thank you to everyone who helped organize and/or participated in the retreat. Some the highlights included creating interpretive sculptures with modeling clay, watching everyone try to dance in unison during Irish dancing whilst falling over their own feet, and learning some crazy new things we never knew about each other in Dr. Dierking’s icebreaker game. We also discovered Laia is amazing at cooking chili over a fire, and Dr. Rowe makes a mean burger!

Check out our photos here. You will also find them on our facebook page.



Our Sea Grant educators’ retreat took place Tuesday. Thanks largely to Shawn and Laura’s planning and facilitation, we made some real progress in setting individual and collective trajectories for the education program.

Among our many agenda items were the construction of a staffing plan draft and—this was interesting—a small-group assignment to define “free-choice learning.” We found that our groups’ definitions generally agreed, even where they became fuzzy around the intricacies of motivation.

The staffing plan was a major outcome for the day. Currently, each of the folks on the floor of the Visitor Center or in the classrooms follows one of several chains of command. Even so, we’ve managed and communicated very well. This was evidenced by the fact that just about everyone at the retreat was already on a first-name, comfortable-talking-about-anything basis with everyone else.

Once the proposed plan is ironed out, we should have a more streamlined organizational structure and better coverage in some areas. Drafting the plan took surprisingly little time, as the needs of each team member and department were fairly well understood and complementary.

On a different topic, some of you are undoubtedly aware that Ursula began expelling eggs recently. These are infertile, and she seems to know it. She has not been laying them in ropes or grooming them as an expectant mother would, but rather attaching them in small clusters to the tank walls.

The husbandry team is currently making plans for Ursula’s release and the acquisition of another octopus. At this point, it’s uncertain exactly how much time Ursula has—a factor in when, where and how she can safely be released. In the meantime, Bill has been offering her live, local food to get her back in the habit of hunting.

We’ll all miss Ursula when she leaves, but we know that’s part of a human—or at least vertebrate—narrative. As always, we have to acknowledge her needs and to recognize that her perceptions and emotions do not mirror our own. With the onset of reproductive maturity, we must accept that her current needs can only be met by the sea that bore her.