I have a lifelong connection to the Oregon Coast. Three generations of my family traveled each year to vacation near Waldport, and as an adult, I traveled multiple times each year to spend time on both the north and central coast of Oregon. As I began my fellowship with Oregon Sea Grant, my overall goal was to have the opportunity to apply my skills in research, outreach, and expanding collaborative partnerships, in ways that will help protect and enhance coastal environments and associated human economic and social systems in Oregon. I am happy to say that all of the projects that I worked on in 2018-2019, not only gave me this opportunity, but also enriched my academic and professional experience in ways that are immeasurable.
In November 2018, I began an Oregon Sea Grant Legislative Fellowship, where I supported the Chair of the Coastal Caucus and members of the Caucus by monitoring, researching, and reporting on legislation and legislative issues affecting marine resources and communities along the Oregon Coast. In that role, I also served as a resource for external communications with state agencies, coastal constituents and other key stakeholder groups.
In 2019, I began work as an Oregon Sea Grant Natural Resource Policy Fellow, where I focused on projects with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB), Oregon Sea Grant (OSG), and other partners. In this collaborative environment, I helped to develop project scopes and plans, implemented research, and communicate findings on several (new to me) areas of interest. My research projects ranged from understanding the use of copper in anti-fouling boat paint and potential aquatic impacts in both freshwater and marine environments; the role of synthetic fibers and the pathways of fibers in local and nearshore aquatic systems; the development of marine invasive species outreach materials for marina and boatyard operators; to a GIS project that helped to identify potential contamination point-sources to existing water systems (e.g., aquifers, WWTPs and outflows, well fields and surface drinking water systems). Last, but not least, one of my most rewarding projects was assisting with the coordination, development, and implementation of various administrative and mentorship aspects for students participating in the 2019 Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience (OASE) program.
In addition to vastly expanding my knowledge and experience in areas outside of my initial scope of expertise (ie. copper in anti-fouling boat paint, aquatic impacts of copper toxicity, scope of microfibers (plastics) in nearshore and marine environments, impacts of novel marine invasive species, etc.), my fellowship helped me to develop new skills in informal and formal communications; sharing complex and technical information to a varied audience; exploring impacts and implementation strategies for state agencies when researching and applying laws, rules, and regulations; and, understanding that political aptitude is a vital component to the successful completion of environmental projects.
As a member of the Community of Practice Oregon Sea Grant group, I look forward to continuing my personal and professional relationships with other OSG Fellows, Scholars, and grant recipients, and I will always be thankful for my experiences as an Oregon Sea Grant Natural Resource Policy Fellow.