Final Week

I made it back to Michigan safely. It took three days, they were long days of driving.
I left Oregon through the gorge, the same way I arrived.  It was beautiful, as always; I can still see it in my mind’s eye.
From 84 I couldn’t see Bonneville dam but I was told though that the sea lions have already begun to return, as of three weeks ago.  It’s funny for me to think, had I not come to the dam last December I probably never would have come to Hatfield either.
I hope they’re all well, I miss them all already. I also miss the way the ocean smelled sometimes in the morning.
While at Hatfield I learned that being a practicing natural resource manager is a tough job.  I can see how it would suck the life from you over time.  Just like any hard work really, but doesn’t allow for the same rejuvenating connection to nature the way field biology does.  It’s an important job though and I’d like to thank those who do it.
Though I don’t think I will be pursuing a permanent position in outreach, I feel I am better equipped to actively integrate outreach and communication techniques into my research and other future endeavors.  Over the course of my summer I was exposed to three distinct forms of outreach and engagement; policy from Dr. Lubchenco’s speech at di Vinci days, public engagement at the da Vinci Days booth and outreach at the agency.   I was asked if I find myself drawn to one of form over the others and if I had to choose I would have to say public engagement at da Vinci days.  I liked being outside and teaching people, excited to learn new things.


Week Nine

So my presentation was last Friday.  It was nice having the chance to see Catherine and Sam, the Sea Grant Scholars working at Bandon and OIMB.  I must say everyone did an amazing job presenting.  What surprised me though is I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I normally get before presentations.  I feel that everything went smoothly during it as well.  A few things I know I could improve upon include looking up at the audience more.  Shelby, one of my REU neighbors was in the audience taking pictures during my presentation and I don’t think there was one where I was looking up, though I know I didn’t just stare at my notes the whole time.  Also I feel like I could have spoken with more inflection in my voice.  Once I had finished I really felt that I was sounding rather flat.  This will likely change though with additional practice and connecting with audience more.  I did receive a packet of feedback forms, which I haven’t looked through yet.
Otherwise I am mostly tying some loose ends and packing.  Packing is what I have been looking forward to the least.  I drive a tiny Honda and I have an entire house full of things with me from living in the gorge. Not only do I have to get all my things to fit but my father is flying out to drive back with me, so there has to be room for him as well. I’m looking forward to seeing my father though.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anyone from my family.
Hatfield really has been good to me; I took it granted at times.

Week Eight

So, our final presentations are on Friday.

I am just about finished putting together my presentation. I practiced a few times starting yesterday, so I should be feeling pretty confident by Friday afternoon.  I used a new layout for the visual portion of my presentation.  Instead of putting the talking points up on the screen, like I am accustom to seeing in lecture and other presentation, the main focus of the slide will be a picture, framed by a heading and subheading.  The heading states the main idea of the slide and the subheading states by its important.  My fellow Hatfield residents and I were lucky enough to receive a seminar about how to use visuals more effectively in oral presentations.  We were told that the researchers and users of the new format we regularly voted best oral presentation at conferences.  So far I’ve gotten good feedback from my practice audience.

The angler surveys are continuing to come back, though the numbers seem to be tapering off. The due date was just last Monday so a few more should be trickling in.  So far I have about a 30% response rate which is great!  I was told to expect about 25% so I’m pretty pleased.  Reading through them as I enter the data into the computer is really encouraging.  It seems like anglers are more likely to be on the side of using the device and are concerned with the conservation of the fishery.

Last Friday I met with ODFW’s web designer, who usually works out of Salem but found himself on the coast last week. He has kindly offered his help in the production processes for the series on informational videos about rockfish conservation I have been working on. Having helped make a video form the black rockfish PIT tagging program, he experience will be invaluable for getting the videos finished.  He stopped in to hear more about how I envision the videos beyond the pictures on the story boards, as the filming will likely take place the first few weeks in September, after I have returned to Michigan. I am excited about seeing the final result post online.  It feels a little bit like the way I imagine it would feel to co-author my first publication.  I am excited and a little bit nervous.

This past weekend was a bit of a last hooray for the summer.  Some of my fellow Hatfield residents and I took a weekend trip to the redwood forest in California.  The trees were beautiful but driving down the coast was almost better. I’m going to miss Oregon when I’m gone.

Week Seven

What an exciting week!
Starting bright and early Monday morning the first batch of returned angler surveys were on my desk, Hooray!  Granted as stack of 20 or so white envelops does not seem all that exciting, the information they contain is invaluable.  The surveyed anglers will help determine how we can save the more lives of protected rockfish. The experiences, opinions and suggestions of these anglers are important to our cause because they are stakeholders in the resource ODFW is trying to responsibly manage. Responsibly managing resources is a community affair which requires the participation of Oregon’s anglers.  Thank you to all of the respondents for doing your part!
The public comment meeting I attended this evening further emphasized this point.  A public comment meeting is an opportunity for stakeholders to meet with natural resource managers and provide their suggestions about regulation changes and receive updates about the goings with commission meetings etc.
Today’s meeting was presided over by the halibut and groundfish management time, with whom I’m associated.  Important news that was discussed included how to arrange the sport halibut season and the potential for China Rockfish to become an overfished species in the coming years.
For last three days have been busily entering survey data into the computer.  Because respondents answered a series of multiple choice and short response question, the data set which is created as a result is more complex than I am custom to.  I have transcribed all the short answer responses in to the computer and then coded the responses with a number that correlates to a summary of the response.  It is a time consuming task but I have really enjoyed looking over the responses.  Thus far I have about a 20% return rate of surveys and the requested return date is not until next Monday.  This is very encouraging since I have been anticipating a 25% return rate over all and it looks like this will be far exceeded.

Week Six

I cannot believe how quickly my summer here at Hatfield is passing. 

Since June I have distributed dozens of descending devices, I helped conduct interviews with charter boat captains and designed a survey that has been mailed to over 250 recreational anglers here in Oregon.  It’s been busy. 

For the past week or so I have been working on story boards that will eventually become a small video series on the issues surrounding rockfish conservation and how easy it is for all anglers to do their part by using a descending device. 

The “introduction” video describes why canary and yelloweye rockfish are sensitive to fishing pressure and how their bodies are affected by the sudden drop in pressure when they are reeled to the surface.   This video will then link up to “how-to” videos that offer more in depth information on how to operate the different types of descending devices and how by simply returning a fish at depth an angler can greatly increase its chances of long term survival. 

While the scripts are still in review, I have recruited the help of ODFW’s web developer to offer his expertise on formatting and planning the design of the final products so the videos are easy to use by our audience. Also he has offer his time and support all along the production process.  I know his help will be important for the process to go smoothly.  Thank you Bob!

Though, I am very excited that the videos are getting under way, I unfortunately will not be around for the filming and final editing as filming likely will not be able to take place until early September.  I am looking forward to seeing the finished products though and am grateful that I having the opportunity to work as a part of the team on such an important portion of the rockfish conservation project.

Week Five

This weekend was an exciting one, with a trip to Corvallis for my fellow Sea Grant Scholars and I.  Corvallis was playing host to a science and arts festival called da Vinci Days .  What makes this festival stand out from the other science and art festivals is that it is meant to remind people, especially artist and scientists, that the two pursuits are intertwined.  One of the demonstrations that the festival featured to do this was by having community built kinetic sculptures.  Kinetic sculptures are sculptures, pieces of art, which using the power of science are designed to be moved by human motion and in the case of da Vinci Days to race over obstacles. 

Oregon Sea Grant also had a booth at the festival which my fellow scholars and I had the privilege to work.  For me it was a great opportunity to reach out and discuss rockfish conservation issues with the festival goers.  Before arriving in Corvallis I was asked to make a poster describing the work I do and my experience as a summer scholar.  The poster was to be hung while I tended the booth on Sunday morning, with the hopes of catching attention and creating an opportunity to engage people in my work.  To my delight I found quite a few people attracted to my poster and with whom I was able to engage.

The real highlight of the event though was going with the other Sea Grant scholars to listen to Dr. Jane Lubchenco speak as key not speaker for the festival.  As the former director of NOAA, she spoke about how Washington D.C and politics interact with environmental issue and how important it is for scientists to communicate their science in a manner that is easy to understand.  She also spoke to and demonstrated how the art of narrative story telling can easy the barriers to communicating science. She did this by relaying her experiences as the director of NOAA in a series of short story, which she collectively titled Dr. Jane goes to Washington

I am very lucky and appresiative of Oregon Sea Grant to have had the opportunity to attend the 2013 da Vinci Days festival and left more inspired and determined than ever.

Week Three

Happy belated fourth of July!  I hope you all enjoyed the holiday.
The other Hatfield residents and I spent a nice afternoon at Olalla Lake then barbequed back at the dorms.  In the evening we all watched fireworks over the bay.
I have exciting news to report from the office.  My first angler survey will be mailed out tomorrow!  The survey is being mail to boat owners, who in the past reported that they didn’t use a recompression device when releasing a yelloweyed or canary rockfish, the target species of my project.  I designed the survey to find out if any of the sport boat captains have begun using recompression devices since they were asked initially.  If they have begun using the device, I designed the survey to ask them what motivated them to begin using recompression devices and how they found out about them .  From this information I am hoping to glean information about what might motivate others to use the devices and also how news and information travels through the angling community.
I am excited to review the results, which should be in by the second week of August.  This information will help me select the right information and medium for each audience as well as how best to distribute my information.

Week Two

It’s been another great week on the Oregon coast!  The sky was a little bit more grey than I’m accustomed, but I hear it’s all sun shine after the 4th of July.

Today I got down and dirty trying out some really coastal living.  One of many things I have been excited about living on the coast was all the fresh sea food, and of course there is nothing fresher than harvesting it yourself.  As tasty as tuna and even rockfish are they are slightly out my reach as a boat is required. However, many species of shellfish are easily harvested from the shore.

Having never clammed, crabbed or shrimped I was a little befuddled as to what to do once I bought my permit.  Luckily enough on my way out of the office that day I noticed a flyer, by the Oregon State Park ranger, advertising a free clamming, crabbing, etc. workshop for beginners, and so this morning I attended workshop.  The other attendees and I learned how to work a crab trap and how to bait it.  I learned how a shrimp pump worked and that the shrimp it catches are best used for fishing bait.  The clamming is what I was most interested in learning about.  I learned the gapper clams have long “necks”, sometimes up to three feet long, and so the body/shell of the clam can sit as far down as a yard under the sand.  It was advised that two to three people dig for one gapper clam at a time and they all close in around in it.  Talk about team work!

After the workshop the ranger took us all down to the mud flat and help us dig for our first purple varnish clams.  It only took a few minutes before I got the hang of in and within an hour I had hit the bag limit of 72 purple varnish clams a day.  It was recommend that before cooking the clams be left to soak in a mix of sea water and flour from several hours. So I hurried them home to set them to soak for dinner that night.

While letting them soak a few of my fellow Hatfield residents and I took a drive about 30 miles south of Newport to Cape Perpetua and the Devil’s Churn.  On that portion of the coast lava rock juts out of water just in front of the beach and the tidal waters get just high enough to fill the voids in the rock.  These salty pool were dotted with anemones and mussels.  Interestingly enough the pools closest to the mainland where filled with tadpoles, meaning they were fresh water.  I must have been filled by rain and just outside the reach of the tide.

After leaving them to sit for a few hours my fellow Hatfield residents and I steamed the clams in white wine, garlic and parsley and served them over linguine.  A delicious way to end the day if may say so.    The only thing I would have changed is that I would have left the clams to sit for just a bit longer because they were just a bit sandy still on the inside come dinner time.

Week One

I am super excited to have the opportunity to be living in Newport Oregon this summer!
For the next nine weeks I will be working with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to develop new outreach material regarding Pacific Rockfish conservation and the use of descending devices.  I will be using this blog to share my experiences while on the Oregon coast, both at work and recreating.   This is my first time living near an ocean, having grown up in the Chicago area and attending university in Michigan.  I intend to use the next nine weeks to enjoy the experience to the fullest.
My time with ODFW has gotten off to a great start!  Last Friday I was able to volunteer my time with ODFW’s rockfish PIT tagging crew.  As a volunteer it was my responsibility to catch as many Black Rockfish as possible with a rod and reel.  Having never fished the ocean before I was skeptical as to whether or not I would be able to catch any fish.  However, after just a short time of fishing I caught my first Black Rockfish and by the end of the seven hours I had caught nine fish in total. I feel the boat captain deserves a lot of the credit though, considering he’s the one that had to find where the fish may be lurking under water.
Yesterday, some of the other residents at Hatfield and I were treated to a special tour of the Oregon Coast Aquarium.  The guide took us behind the scenes to see where they culture jellyfish and brine shrimp as well as the pinniped training pools.  Lucky for us, as we arrived two of the harbor seals were just beginning their training session.  It was the cutest thing to see the seals bounce around the pool deck on their bellies.  My favorite exhibit at the aquarium was the Passages of the Deep, where visitors walked through a tunnel surrounded by rockfish, sharks and other deep sea life found off the coast of Oregon.
Mother Nature planned an additional surprise for my first week on the coast as well, a tide of -2.38 on Sunday morning.  So a fellow Hatfield resident and I went tide pooling at seal rock.  The rocks were covered with green anemones, starfish and mussels.  The mussels made the rocks seem alive, hissing and wheezing whenever they were disturbed.  Tucked between rocks where purple shore crabs and sea sponges and when we looked closely through the sea grass we even found a nudibranch (a fantastically colored sea slug)!
With such a successful first week I am really looking forward to the rest of the summer.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA