A Summer of Growth

I cannot believe how quickly this summer has flown by! It feels like just a few days ago I was at the WRCA office working on writing my first blog post. Now, I’m back at my school library, trying to find a way to summarize everything I’ve learned and experienced.

This summer was my first time living somewhere away from home other than on a college campus. I had to learn how to cook, clean, pay for laundry and problem solve on my own. This experience in itself was invaluable because it taught me how to become a real adult, especially now that I am officially no longer a teenager.

I learned how to work with people who may have opinions or ideas I don’t agree with, and how to speak up for myself when I feel I need to. I figured out that a desk job is not my profession of choice, but also how to make office work manageable. A skill I was hoping to improve on was my networking skills, and I was presented with many opportunities to do so this summer.

I think my biggest take-away from this summer is how passionate each and every person I met was about what they were doing. I didn’t meet a single individual who didn’t love what they did every day. In a world where us students are pushed towards jobs that bring the most profit, it’s inspiring to see that you can always find a way to do what you love and care about.

In summary, this summer has been life changing, although a lot of how I’ve grown cannot be put to words. Needless to say, I am so grateful to Oregon Sea Grant and all of those I met and/or worked with this summer. I will hold this experience close to my heart and can’t wait to do more with Sea Grant in the future!

Charleston Charters

For my summer project, I’ve been working on the curriculum development of the Guide and Outfitters Recognized Professional program, also known as the GORP program. The purpose of the GORP program is to create an educational standard for guides and increase the professionalism of guiding. This way, guides who go through the program can better market themselves to their visitors and help them get more out of their experiences. At this point in the summer, I have finished most of my work on the curriculum aspect and am now starting to interview guides to learn more about what the profession and how the GORP program may help them.

Charleston is well known as a small town with beautiful views of the marina and excellent fishing. The best way to experience fishing in the area is going out with one of the three charter companies. I got to meet with two charters and learn about their owners, and what makes each business so special.

Captain John Blanchard single handedly runs Sharky’s Charters. John started as a commercial fisherman but decided to switch to guiding and has lead charters for four years now. He is the only captain, and takes out smaller groups of 4-6, which is a great way to get more valuable one-on-one instruction. When asked what his favorite part of being a guide was, he said that he likes meeting people and forming friendships with his customers, who frequently return for fishing trips. He also loves sharing his passion with others and remarked “If you do what you love, you don’t work a day in your life”.

Kurt Smith is one of the two captains at Betty Kay’s Charters and has about 18 years of experience. He will be taking over as owner of the company in the upcoming months. Kurt takes pride in his charter company’s commitment to customer service and making sure that every customer has a fun trip and great experience. He thinks that the value provided by hiring a guide is immeasurable, as they have all the “local insight” and know where the fish are better that any visitor could figure out on their own. Betty Kay’s is able to accommodate larger groups and more people depending on trips, fitting about 20 passengers on a boat.

One of the universal factor of fishing charters is they are entirely weather dependent. If the ocean is too rough or winds are too strong, they must cancel charter trips for that day, so it is important to be flexible when hiring a charter company. If you or someone you know is interested in fishing in the Charleston area, try giving one of the local charter companies a call!

Trees of Coastal Oregon

One of my favorite things about being a Sea Grant Scholar is having the opportunity to spend time outside getting familiar with the native wildlife. The Pacific Northwest is well known for its plentiful coniferous trees that stay green all year long. When I first got to this part of Oregon, I assumed all the trees were just one same dominant species. Little did I know that although there are a few different species of trees that make up the coast, there are three main conifers that can be easily distinguished from each other.

They are the firs, pines and spruces. The main fir in the area is the Douglas Fir. This can be identified by its softer needles that stick out in all directions from the branch. Its cones have three pointed bracts pointing out, which resemble a mouse tail and two feet from a myth. The pine here is the Shore Pine. It has dark green pokey needles that come in pairs, and even its cones have spikes on it. Finally, the spruce in this area is the Sitka Spruce. Spruces are mostly known as being Christmas trees, but the Sitka Spruce is a little different. It has very sharp points and the bark is layered and scaly looking. The cones are very papery.

Although they all look similar to the untrained eye, once you know the distinguishing differences between these common conifers, you can identify them anywhere. It’s so fun to hike around the area and identify the local trees, plants, birds and other animals. I’m excited to expand my knowledge as the summer continues!

Tourism as it was Meant to Be

Almost any avid golfer knows that Bandon Dunes is regarded as the “Mecca of American Golf”. With its miles of beautiful rolling green hills overlooking the ocean, it’s easy to understand why. Many celebrities, pro athletes, and golf enthusiasts like to escape to the resort for a few days, and some even refer to it as “man camp”. But what many don’t realize is that there so much more to Bandon Dunes than golf.

Mike Keiser, the owner of the resort, saw the needs of the community and the positive impact clean tourism has on the area. He founded the Wild Rivers Coast Alliance (WRCA) to fund triple-bottom-line projects in the community. The net proceeds made from the Bandon Preserves course goes towards the WRCA, which then goes into grants for other organizations serving the Sothern Oregon coast. Even the course itself emphasizes the beauty of the area, featuring the endangered and protected plant species silvery phacelia. Some organizations that had projects funded by the WRCA this past year include the Oregon Coast Visitors Association, Beaver Slough Drainage District and community members in fighting against the invasive species gorse. The WRCA and the Bandon Dunes Resort are prime examples of tourism as it should be; providing visitors with an experience of a lifetime while highlighting features of the area and putting profits back into the community and environment.

As an Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholar, I am working with OSU extension and WRCA to develop curriculum for training guides and outfitters on the Oregon coast. I’ve loved getting to explore Bandon and learn about everything the tourism at the resort has done to help the community. It’s been an amazing experience so far learning about the impact tourism can have on communities, and I look forward to learning much more as the summer continues.