Pennsylvania Sea Grant receives promotion in federal status

Erie, Pa. — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced that Pennsylvania Sea Grant has been promoted to Institutional Sea Grant Program status.

Pennsylvania Sea Grant is administered by Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, and staffs two locations — a Lake Erie Office in the Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle State Park and a Delaware Estuary Office in the Delaware County city of Chester. Institutional status designation gives Pennsylvania Sea Grant primary responsibility for statewide oversight of long-term investments consistent with NOAA's national Sea Grant goal of environmental stewardship and responsible resource use. The announcement was made last week.

NOAA established Pennsylvania Sea Grant at Penn State Behrend in 1998. "The college began pursuing a Sea Grant project in the mid-1990s because with the exception of Pennsylvania, every state with an ocean or Great Lakes coastline had a Sea Grant program in place and was receiving federal funding to support their coastal environmental and economic sustainability efforts," Robert W. Light, Pennsylvania Sea Grant director and senior associate dean at Penn State Behrend, said. "Promotion to institutional status recognizes Pennsylvania Sea Grant's successes over the past decade, and brings with it additional funding that will allow us to expand research and outreach services to include the Susquehanna River watershed.”

Pennsylvania Sea Grant's mission is to promote the ecological and economic sustainability of Pennsylvania's coastal resources through science-based research, education and extension. Over the past decade, this has included:

-- Partnering with New York and Ohio Sea Grant and Environment Canada to coordinate and facilitate avian botulism research and outreach for Lake Erie.

-- Launching Environmental Rediscoveries, a hands-on science program that has taken more than 6,500 middle-school students on day sails aboard a 42-foot Friendship sloop. Students sail the boat, test water quality, and search for aquatic plants and animals.

-- Creating Project FLY (Fishing and Learning Youth) with the assistance of a generous gift from the Friends of Fish Foundation. Project FLY annually provides more than 300 Erie- and Philadelphia-area underserved youth with an introduction to conservation ethics, fisheries science, aquatic entomology, angling, and canoeing.

-- Raising more than $6.2 million to help preserve 912 acres of important coastal land, including 1.3 miles of Lake Erie shoreline and 2.9 miles of stream.

-- Offering a series of educator workshops, "Invasive Species: The Good, the Bad and the Prolific," in collaboration with Maryland and Delaware Sea Grant.

-- Organizing "Setting the Road Map: A Workshop for Developing Pennsylvania’s Invasive Species Management Plan" to help the Pennsylvania Invasive Species Council develop an aquatic invasive species management plan for the state.

-- Helping coordinate and compile the Stage Three Remedial Action Plan related to fish tumors and other deformities for the Presque Isle Bay Area of Concern (AOC). In December 2002, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officially changed the bay’s designation to an AOC in Recovery, a first for U.S. waters.

-- Promoting Seaway Trail and National Scenic Byway designation for Pennsylvania state Route 5 and state Route 20, resulting in $640,752 in federal economic development funding.

-- Implementing a three-year Lake Erie Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) program for local land-use officials. NEMO addresses the relationship between land use and coastal resource protection; to date staff has reached more than 230 students and 580 municipal officials, agency representatives, and consultants.

-- Developing and delivering workshops to help landscape architects, surveyors, engineers, real estate agents and others improve soil erosion control practices.

-- Enhancing fish consumption risk communications outreach for the Delaware River watershed and Lake Erie basin that reach subsistence anglers in their native languages.

-- Collaborating with other Great Lakes Sea Grant educators on a National Science Foundation and NOAA-funded Great Lakes Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE). The Great Lakes COSEE acts as a conduit to funnel current Great Lakes and marine research into the classroom. It also provides opportunities for hands-on science experiences for educators and kindergarten to 12th grade students.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

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Last Updated March 19, 2009