thanks for the memories!

Well, I guess this is it…

It’s hard to believe this is the end of my fellowship. It all happened so quickly, but I am extremely grateful for the experience, opportunities, and friendships made in the process. Since this project will take several years to complete, I am satisfied with the progress we have made so far. Overall, Oregon and Washington are closer to Geographic Location Descriptions (GLDs) for seabed mining, seafood processing discharge, and offshore aquaculture. While some are closer than others, I believe each coastal program is equipped with the tools necessary to finish the product. We also were able to complete a Guidance Document for other Coastal Programs who wish to pursue GLDs in the future.

Geographic Location Descriptions are one of the many tools available to Coastal Programs, including the Oregon and Washington Coastal Management Programs. These documents allow the Coastal Program to review activities outside of the coastal zone for reasonably foreseeable effects to coastal resources. These resources span from recreation and tourism, to fishing practices in state waters. Each of these uses/resources must be balanced with the authorization of an activity in federal waters that is shown to have those effects.

 Seabed Mining

Seabed mining is something most Coastal Programs should plan for, as it is likely to become an emerging use in the future. Scientists have estimated that it is only a matter of time before mining activities shift their focus on the mineral resources found in the ocean. As technology evolves, and the resources found on land become more finite, it can be inferred that seabed mining will be an emerging use. To best prepare for these activities and the reasonably foreseeable effects to coastal resources, both Oregon and Washinton have begun to prepare a GLD for offshore seabed mining. This GLD will ensure each Coastal Program has a seat at the table, as it coordinates with the relevant federal agencies. Under the Coastal Zone Management Act, and its implementing regulations, federal agencies are tasked with coordinating with State Coastal Management Programs to ensure that those federal actions are consistent with enforceable policies located in the coastal zone. In this case, there still needs to be more information known about the technology, but the reasonably foreseeable effects are well delineated. Some of these effects include permanent changes to benthic habitat, water quality degradation, and other natural resource management concerns. This work has been critical to each Coastal Program as they find more information, so much so, that the Washington State Legislature and Governor placed a moratorium on seabed mining activities in the coastal zone. This moratorium is encouraged because it has been put in place before political concerns are taken into account.

 Offshore Aquaculture

As of today, the US has remained focused on developing aquaculture facilities in both the nearshore and offshore. The main goal is to decrease the amount of imported seafood that the US relies upon each year. For this reason, the federal government has remained focused on siting facilities in US waters every four years. A GLD will ensure that concerns for natural resources will be discussed prior to authorization. Some of these things include excess nutrient

input, HABs, OAH, competition with the fishing industry, and other relevant/valid issues with an offshore aquaculture facility. The three main types of aquaculture were considered in developing the analysis of reasonably foreseeable effects of aquaculture siting on natural resources. The three main types of aquaculture are: finfish, marine vegetation, and shellfish. Each of these types of aquaculture have impacts to coastal resources and uses, so the Coastal Program remains focused on coordinating with the relevant agencies on developing the framework for siting these facilities in the future. These impacts will be helpful in starting the conversation, in the same way the BOEM Wind Energy Task Force uses the information in the Marine Renewable GLD to determine what the reasonably foreseeable effects could be.

 Offshore Seafood Processing Discharge

This is probably the activity I spent the most time on. Starting in 2015, the State of Oregon and the EPA began coordinating on a permit for offshore seafood processing discharge on the Oregon and Washington continental shelves. Unfortunately, the two agencies were unable to reach an agreement on the coastal effects of the authorization of the activity. One of the primary points of disagreement was that each agency needed to know a lot more information about the oceanographic currents, where the material is going, what the respiration rate is of the material, etc. During my fellowship, I was able to bring this permit to the EPA’s enforcement division along with creating a coordination process with the Quileute Tribe, Quinault Tribe, the State of Washington, the State of Oregon, and the EPA. This coordination group meets quarterly to discuss the complexities of permit enforcement and how to ensure the reporting information can be used to inform the next iteration of the permit in 2024.

 GLD Guidance Document

Due to the gray area involved in drafting GLDs, I was able to help draft a Guidance Document for GLDs. This document discusses the complexities that come with undertaking these projects, especially when the technology is so new. For example, seabed mining is not a practice in the US, so it is difficult to ascertain the types of impacts to key coastal resources without further research. This document should be in publication within the next year.

Final Note

This has been a fantastic opportunity, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I feel better equipped to take on a career in coastal management, and am incredibly excited to see what’s next. In the meantime, I was able to participate in a podcast with Felicia Olmeta-Schult to discuss lessons learned from my fellowship, and other information about coastal management.

Final Lessons from Oregon Sea Grant

Working as an Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholar these past ten weeks has been a blast! I learned so many lessons that will be applicable throughout the entirety of my career in science. My favorite parts of my internship were all the times I was able to interact with other people interested in the Oregon seafood industry. I loved Fridays when I could join my mentor, Angee, at the Newport docks. I also enjoyed the interviews I had with industry leaders up and down the Oregon coast. Overall, I felt the most connected to the coast when I could interact with people who had deep connections with it. 

This feeling is something I hope to carry into my next step as a scientist. I am currently living in Guam working towards getting my masters degree in coral restoration genetics. While working here I plan to establish a relationship with community members and other scientists. By learning from people who have lived with and studied this area far longer than I have, I should be able to deepen my respect for corals and integrate a diverse range of disciplines into my work. In addition to expanding my community here, I plan to continue making science education videos and posts. Instead of posting about Eat Oregon Seafood, I will shift to posting about coral restoration research. I also hope to make some videos that may help demystify graduate school for students who don’t initially see themselves belonging there.

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Our first field day in Guam
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Corals located right behind the University of Guam Marine Lab

I will spend three years here in Guam completing my masters (and I can already tell they are going to be three of the best years of my life). Afterwards, I plan to pursue a PhD in coral science (and maybe even dive a little into policy as a Knauss fellow – who knows!). I am positive that I will continue to appreciate Oregon seafood management from afar and use everything I learned this summer to look at my current work from different perspectives. Big thank you to Oregon Sea Grant, my summer mentors, and everyone else who made this summer possible!

All good things must come to an end.

It is bittersweet knowing that I have to say goodbye to this amazing opportunity, but I was ready to return home. For the final weeks of the internship, we continued to survey, entered date into excel, and then created the final presentation. It was great to meet new people and learn about everything everyone was doing. I was really happy I took this awesome opportunity. I am happy that I accepted the position with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and was granted the honor of being an Oregon Sea Grant Scholar. I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I met some great people, gained lot of professional skills and experiences. The west coast was defiantly something different. I would love to visit the west coast, but for vacation purposes. The scenery is so beautiful and I was honored to be on the ancestral lands of the Umatilla, Coos, Siletz and many more tribes. It is with gratitude that I had the opportunity to work there. Thank you. The Oregon Coast is unlike anything I have ever experienced, I am glad I had the opportunity. My favorite part was the scenery and will include one of my favorite photos that I captured while conducting surveys. It is in Otter Rock. Until next time.

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Summer in Review, and Next Steps

To echo the words of my mentors in a meeting yesterday, “it’s been 10 weeks already?!” My time at the Oregon Coastal and Ocean Information Network (OCOIN) has absolutely flown by. Beyond a doubt, my personal growth and learning over the course of this Summer is due to the amazing network of people within OCOIN and Sea Grant. I felt supported by my mentors who both helped me become an expert in ESRI software, like survey123, and supported my own curiosity and innovation while working on OCOIN’s tools this summer. I also want to recognize my fellow Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholar, Joshua, whose collaboration allowed me to be a better team member and always challenged me to learn more skills and organize efficiently. 

This internship confirmed that after I graduate in 2022 I want to continue exploring the ways mapping and spatial data can be used as a research method and a vehicle for science communication. I plan on taking a year to work before pursuing a graduate degree in the geospatial data science realm, and I feel confident the skills I’ve learned at OCOIN will help me with both endeavors. Beyond software, my expanded confidence in troubleshooting and the  design and implementation of user-interface updates I gained while working on OCOIN’s tools will be invaluable while searching for jobs. 

Last day on the job selfie, featuring the Oregon Sea Grant hat!

Finally, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to the Oregon Sea Grant, my mentors in the CEI program, and the entire team at OCOIN. It was a pleasure to work with everyone and I know we will be in contact in the future!

Ten Weeks Packed Full of Learning

I can’t believe that my time as a Summer Scholar is already coming to a close. Working with the Oregon Coastal and Ocean Information Network (OCOIN) has provided an amazing opportunity to see what my professional life will be like after I finish school. Within the OCOIN network, I have been able to gain a broader view of organizations working to provide for Oregon’s coast and have built connections with professionals within these networks. It has been a confirming experience working with people with common interests, with whom I can see myself working well with. 

My view this week, finishing up our updates to OCOIN’s Coastal Research Explorer.

While I don’t feel like I have a better understanding of what exactly I would like to do after school, I do feel more comfortable with the options before me. With OCOIN, I have seen a greater variety of professional tracks working within the environmental science realm. I have also learned valuable skills that will help me when it comes time for my job hunt. My biggest goal as a Summer Scholar was to learn ArcGIS, and I have gotten a deeper understanding of it than I thought was possible in just ten short weeks. Before this summer, I knew nothing about ArcGIS, but over my internship, I have completed many tutorials, had hours of hands-on training, been able to put my skills to use working on OCOIN’s Coastal Research Explorer, and have even had my share of troubleshooting to really gain a deep learning of this valuable skill. 

This fall, I will be starting graduate school at Portland State University, working towards my Master of Science in Environmental Science and Management. I will be a part of the Applied Coastal Ecology lab with Dr. Elise Granek. One of my goals as a Summer Scholar was to determine what I would like to research. While that is still taking shape, the vision of what it will be is much clearer. Throughout my internship, I worked hands-on with OCOIN’s Coastal Research Explorer, which hosts Oregon’s coastal research projects. This experience allowed me to see what research is taking place on the coast, aiding in my quest to find a research topic. I am grateful for the skills I acquired, the connections I made, and the hands-on experience I gained as a Summer Scholar. 

Saying “goodbye” to the South Slough a 2nd time… but not really

Reflection:

This summer, as the cliché goes, went by “in the blink of an eye.” I had a lot of fun at the Slough, and being there every other week truly felt like going on vacation. I have had a hectic schedule this summer to say the least, but working once again with the South Slough staff was a pleasure. While last summer’s internship largely prepared me to have success right away for this year’s science camps, I certainly became a more confident educator through my additional exposure to leading camps this summer.

High school science campers feeding tide pool critters at the Charleston Marine Life Center in Charleston, OR.

Did this internship affect my future career choices?:

My experience this summer did not affect my career path, but my overall time as an Oregon Sea Grant intern at the South Slough certainly has. I am in the process of applying to Wildlife Ecology PhD programs and hope to pursue a career in academia, research, and wilderness management. My time at SSNERR has also motivated me to pursue educational outreach opportunities in the future, whether that be as a volunteer or through occupational means. I am a passionate student of ecology and animal behavior, which has only been amplified by my past two summers as a Summer Scholar.

Next Steps:

At this time, my next next steps are to complete my undergraduate honor thesis and to obtain funding for graduate school. I have spoken with prospective PhD mentors from various universities this summer and have options that are contingent on either their labs obtaining funding or me obtaining funding. Ideally, if I can win a competitive fellowship award, such as the NSF GRFP, then I will be able to conduct meaningful research under the mentor that I hope to work with. Most of my time is currently occupied with data collection for my thesis (which is a study on how blue fluorescent light affects bee movement and pollination behavior) and polishing my applications for graduate school funding. I am also preparing to take the GRE in September and working in a bird physiology lab, which will hopefully prepare me for some work I hope to do with birds in grad school. I will also be working closely with the South Slough to complete the SWMP water quality exhibit over the course of the next few months.

Thanks!

Thanks again to Oregon Sea Grant and the South Slough for the tremendous opportunities over the past two summers! I will keep in regular contact with members of the South Slough and appreciate all Sea Grant has done in opening new career pathways for me.

All by myself…

Just ten weeks ago Lisette, Phoenix, and I were headed to Otter Rock for our first practice run surveying visitors to Oregon’s marine reserves. Fast forward to today; Lisette headed back to Chicago last week and Phoenix left the week before. It has been a quite week finishing up data entry and checking from home so I have had more time to think about this blog post compared to previous ones.

Throughout these ten weeks I saw how human dimensions research is carried out from survey design to report writing. I sat in on meetings with the team designing and drafting a survey that would be sent out to thousands of recreational fishers, created a codebook for data entry, conducted hundreds of surveys of visitors and businesses, and now I’m starting the report writing phase.

This behind the scenes look has made me feel more confident in my career goals going forward. I have always said that I wanted to work for ODFW or similar agency because I felt that their mission aligned with my personal values. This experience has solidified that for me and, through our mentor Tommy, I have gained some insight into what it takes to get a permanent position at ODFW.

It looks more and more like graduate school is in my future. I have started doing some surface level research into where I could apply and what that process looks like. This is where I feel like I faltered at the end of my previous bachelor’s degree so this all makes me a little nervous. In the next few weeks I will develop more of a plan and set up some meetings with my advisor and others to make sure I’m on the right track.

In the short term I will be staying on with ODFW as a temporary biological science aid. This will allow me to continue helping write the reports for the data we collected this Summer. I’m excited to stick with the project a little longer and to have a job for the rest of the Summer!

Thistle is adjusting to the work from home life.

Last Update!

The majority of my time this week has gone to revising and finalizing my final report that I have been working on all summer. This is the first time that I have gotten to commit so much time to a project that I am working on independently and as I get closer to being able to submit I feel very proud of all that I accomplished this summer. Coming into this I didn’t really know what to expect but I feel like I have gained very useful skills in being able to read complex research materials and distill them down to be more understandable and consumable by the general public. I have also learned that I care a lot more about environmental education than I previously thought. It gives me a way to utilize both my environmental science and education backgrounds and combining those with my experience of growing up with crisis based environmental education has been so rewarding. This summer has definitely taught me so much about environmental education and virtual learning and I am so thankful that I got to have this experience so early on in my academic career.

As this internship wraps up I have been thinking a lot about what I have gained from this experience. As someone who grew up far away from the coast I never really saw marine conservation as something that I would want to pursue as a career. However, being exposed to so many different career paths and having my first experiences with marine conservation has made me realize that it is something that I would want to pursue in the future. 

I am now headed back to the University of Washington to start my sophomore year, and my first year in person on my campus. I am beyond excited to further my knowledge in environmental science and I feel like this experience has solidified the path that I want to take. After getting my degree I think that I might either go to grad school for conservation biology or go to law school to pursue environmental law. 

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Various copies of all the different revisions my report has gone through.

goodbye Oregon coast

This summer I’ve been met with an abundance of new experiences. Before this summer I’d never been on the Oregon coast or seen a tufted puffin. Although I’d been to tidepools before, I’m leaving this internship with a whole new world of knowledge about the species found there as well as the seabirds that live on Haystack Rock.  My internship with Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP) allowed me to spend my days thinking about how science communication could be used to increase awareness and action within marine conservation. While a lot of my time was spent reading literature on the topic and conducting research, I also gained so much from just speaking to people on the beach or around Cannon Beach. Before this internship, I didn’t think of myself as someone that could just spark a conversation with a stranger. Through this internship, I have been able to improve my communication skills and have grown considerably in my ability to casually relay scientific information. 

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Since I recently graduated from college I am currently looking for jobs and have a few job prospects in environmental consultant firms. I believe that the skills that I have developed during my internship will provide me with a strong foundation for starting my career and will benefit me further down the road when I choose to go to grad school.

What Summer?

This Summer has gone by incredibly quick. I have had to dust off my “nice voice” that I haven’t used since I was taking orders at Texas Roadhouse, and honestly, I will be glad to put it away again. I have learned that most people are incredibly nice and a shocking number are willing to take time out of their day to take a survey. There are other people who are not as accommodating. I forgot how bad it feels for people to avoid eye contact and try to make you go away by ignoring you. Hopefully interacting with this much of the public will not be in my future.

On a more positive note, I have gotten to gain experience with R studio and see some of the innerworkings of what happens to all this data we are collecting. I won’t say I have a great understanding of data analyses but more than I did last week. Early on we sat in on some meetings where a survey was being developed and sample design was being decided. This Summer has given me a more complete picture of the planning, execution, and analyses process that is human dimensions research.

Knowing what I know now I would have tried to get an earlier start on some of the R studio work and tried to be a little more productive with my days off. Time has gone by so fast and there never seems to be enough to get everything done. The next few days will be filled with surveying in Cape Falcon and putting our final presentation together, hopefully the wifi in Garibaldi is working.