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FY13-14 – Scientific Literacy and Workforce Development


S.C. Sea Grant Consortium’s Beach Sweep/River Sweep Litter Cleanup Saves Taxpayers $183,140 in 2013
PI: Susan Ferris-Hill, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium

South Carolina has 2,876 miles of tidal shoreline, 504,450 acres of salt marsh, 165 linear miles of beaches, and more than 40 barrier islands. Natural resources account for approximately $30 billion dollars in annual economic output for the state (Economic Impact Report, S.C. Dept. of Natural Resources, 2009). And according to the S.C. Dept. of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, tourism spending reached a record $16.5 billion dollars in 2011. Clean beaches, marshes, and waterways are critical to support commercial and recreational boating and fishing, wildlife viewing, tourism, and other industries. A litter-free environment also contributes positively to quality of life. 

RESPONSE: The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium initiated the annual Beach Sweep litter cleanup program in 1988. In 1989, Hurricane Hugo devastated coastal and inland areas. To increase the effectiveness of the cleanup, the Consortium partnered with S.C. Dept. of Natural Resources in 1990 to extend the program statewide; the cleanup was then named Beach Sweep/River Sweep. Through the use of volunteers and private sector funds, the cleanup contributes to the economic, environmental, and societal well-being of the state. By participating in Beach Sweep/River Sweep, the public is more informed about natural resource issues, such as litter’s detrimental effects on the landscape and wildlife, and people are empowered to take action and become environmental stewards. 

RESULTS: In 2013, 4,558 coastal volunteers collected over 18 tons of litter from South Carolina’s beaches, marshes, and waterways, recycling as much debris as possible. There were 120 coastal site captains covering 140 cleanup locations in seven coastal counties, and from Waties Island to Daufuskie Island. The dollar value of Beach Sweep/River Sweep coastal volunteers’ time is $183,140 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012). Volunteers gained an increased awareness of the fragility of natural resources, the importance of keeping them litter-free, and contributed time to improve their communities and natural areas. 

RECAP: Beach Sweep/River Sweep has economic, environmental, and societal benefits. In 2013, 4,558 coastal volunteers collected over 18 tons of litter from 140 cleanup locations of South Carolina’s beaches, marshes, and waterways. The dollar value of coastal volunteers’ time equals $183,140. The state’s natural resources are cleaner, safer, and more beautiful for all to enjoy. 


Two South Carolina Students Selected for Knauss Fellowships
PI: Rick DeVoe, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium

The National Sea Grant College Program’s Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, established in 1979, provides a unique educational experience to students who have an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources. The program matches highly qualified graduate students with hosts in the legislative and executive branches of government located in the Washington, D.C. area for a one-year paid fellowship. The students learn about federal policy regarding marine and Great Lakes natural resources and lend their scientific expertise to federal agencies and congressional staff offices. 

RESPONSE: The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium received nine formal applications for the Knauss fellowship program this year. After interviewing the applicants, the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium submitted five application packages to the National Sea Grant Office for consideration by the Knauss Fellowship review panel.
RESULTS: Two of the Consortium’s five fellowship candidates were selected as Knauss executive fellows in the 2013 class, both graduate students from the College of Charleston. These students were among 53 selected from a nationwide pool of over 100 candidates. The Consortium’s Knauss fellows are Ms. Leah Fisher, who completed a M.S. in marine biology, and served in the NOAA/NOS Planning, Policy, and Analysis Division, and Ms. Elizabeth Fly, who completed a Ph.D. in biological sciences, and served in the NOAA Climate Program Office.  Dr. Fly joined the Consortium staff as our Coastal Climate Extension Specialist in January 2014.
RECAP: The Consortium interviewed nine candidates for the National Sea Grant College Program’s Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, submitted five candidates to the National Sea Grant Office for consideration, and had two of the five selected to serve as Knauss fellows.

S.C. Sea Grant Consortium’s Coastal Heritage Magazine Wins Five Prestigious Awards            
PI: Susan Ferris-Hill, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium

Coastal Heritage magazine, a free quarterly publication produced by the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, brings readers the most up-to-date information available on South Carolina’s rapidly developing coast. Over the last few decades, the S.C. coast has experienced its most sweeping changes since the end of the Civil War. Population growth and rapid economic development continue to transform the state’s coastal resources, historic cities, and lowcountry culture. Globalization continues to drive major changes in commercial fisheries, ports, and economy. And South Carolina’s dynamic coastal environment is in a constant state of flux.

RESPONSE: Coastal Heritage offers readers an in-depth look into environmental, technological, historical, and cultural patterns of change along the S.C. coast and how they affect residents and visitors. The magazine describes how people in the region – from the colonial era to modern times – have depended upon and used coastal and marine resources, and how those resources have shaped the state’s history, culture, and quality-of-life. Hard copies are distributed nationally and internationally to 5,500 subscribers; 500 more issues are distributed as requested to targeted audiences, and each issue is available on the SCSGC website. In FY13-14, three issues were downloaded 22,127 times. Back issues are available online at

RESULTS: The Coastal Heritage team was recognized with five prestigious awards during FY13-14:
  • Coastal Heritage received both a 2013-14 Distinguished Award and the Best of Show Award from the Society for Technical Communication (STC) – Carolina Chapter in the Technical Publications competition.
  • In May 2013, Coastal Heritage received an Award of Merit in STC’s 2012-2013 International Summit Awards competition.
  • Coastal Heritage won Second Place in the Writer’s Portfolio category from the National Association of Government Communicators 2013 Blue Pencil and Gold Screen Awards.
  • Coastal Heritage also won a 2013 Award of Excellence from APEX in the Magazines and Journals category.
RECAP: Coastal Heritage, a quarterly magazine of the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium providing information about important drivers of change along the South Carolina coast, won five prestigious awards during FY13-14; communications professionals from around the world recognize the value of the magazine and its team, and the information presented therein.

Timely Program Information Delivered to Decision-makers and Other Stakeholders through CoastalScience@Work E-newsletter
PI: Susan Ferris-Hill, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium

Decision-makers, stakeholders, and the public should have easy and understandable access to information about the nature and value of the state’s coastal and ocean resources, and the publicly supported programs and activities being conducted by the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium that address issues and opportunities embedded in those resources.  Further, this information should be available in a timely fashion and user-friendly format.

RESPONSE: The CoastalScience@Work: Update from S.C. Sea Grant Consortium e-newsletter, first published in 2011, gives decision-makers, stakeholders, and other readers an informed and concise summary of the nature and value of Consortium research, education, and outreach programs. While the director of communications designs, writes, and schedules for release each issue of CoastalScience@Work, issues appear to be sent by the executive director when received in the contact’s e-mail in-box in order to maximize the open rate; all replies go to the director of communications.
The e-mail lists are segmented into targeted groups, including the Consortium’s Board of Directors and Alternates; Program Advisory Board; a “VIP” list; Extension Advisory Committees; Researchers; Consortium Member Institutions’ Research, Financial, and Communications liaisons; National Sea Grant Office staff; State and Federal Agency personnel; S.C. House and Senate staff; House and Senate staff in D.C.; Consortium staff; and the general public.

RESULTS: The CoastalScience@Work e-newsletter contains information about Consortium programs, activities, and impacts to increase awareness among various stakeholder groups; presently there are 616 active subscribers who receive the e-newsletter via e-mail. Embedded links to the Consortium website and contact information for staff encourages interaction. There also are direct links to the research, education, extension, and products sections of the Consortium’s website. The most recent issue had an open rate of 36%, which is 12% higher than the government industry average. The current issue also is posted on the Consortium’s website at and archived issues are posted at

Decision-makers, stakeholders, and the public are informed about Consortium programs, activities, and impacts in a timely fashion and user-friendly format through the CoastalScience@Work e-newsletter. For FY13-14, an issue sent January 17, 2014 had a 36% open rate, which is 12% higher than the government industry average of 24%. All issues are archived at   

S.C. Sea Grant Consortium Website Provides Critical Information to Decision-makers and the Public
PI: Susan Ferris-Hill, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium

Decision-makers and the public should be informed about coastal resource issues, and the Consortium website continues to be a significant source of information. The website also gives users a better understanding of the Consortium and Sea Grant, as well as the nature and relevance of Consortium-supported research, education, and outreach programs and activities.

RESPONSE: CIS staff maintain the Consortium’s website, holds monthly web meetings with staff, and ensures web content is updated regularly with new information from agency staff. CIS monitors website usage on a monthly basis with the web statistics software Sawmill version 8.

RESULTS: The website received 1,267,827 hits, 213,190 unique visits, and 834,654 downloads during the reporting period. The top ten downloads, and the number of times each was downloaded, are:
  • South Carolina Coastal Wetland Impoundments – 26,697
  • Chemical and Biological Contamination of Stormwater Detention Pond Sediments in Coastal South Carolina – 13,174
  • Coastal Heritage, Winter 2003, “A Line in the Sand: Nourishing South Carolina's Beaches” – 9,643
  • Tidal Creek Habitats: Sentinels of Coastal Health – 8,205
  • Coastal Heritage, Summer-Fall 2010, “Celebrating 30 Years” issue – 8,144
  • Community Associations and Stormwater Management: A Coastal South Carolina Perspective – 7,727
  • Coastal Waterfront Access Challenges and Opportunities for South Carolina Marine Fisheries Stakeholders – 5,540
  • Of Sand and Sea: Teachings From the Southeastern Shoreline, Chapter 2 – 4,858
  • Sustainable Land-Use Planning for the Ashepoo-Combahee-Edisto (ACE) Basin Region: Synthesizing Local Knowledge, Preferences, and Socioeconomics – 4,710
  • Coastal Heritage, Spring 2001, “The Bird Chase” issue – 4,340
RECAP: The Consortium website is a source of science-based information for decision-makers and the public to help them make wise choices regarding natural resource conservation and sustainability.

Consortium Initiates the Development of a S.C. Environmental Education Certification Program for Teachers
PI: Elizabeth Bell, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium

Several states have implemented successful environmental education (EE) certification programs that range in cost, format, content, and requirements. In North Carolina, the EE certification program has been in existence for 16 years and has successfully cultivated thousands of certified teachers in North Carolina, South Carolina and other states in the region. Georgia has also launched an EE Certification program and is currently in their third year of implementation. Currently, there is no EE Certification program in South Carolina, although organizations exist that foster environmental literacy, including the South Carolina Marine Educators Association and the Environmental Educator Association of South Carolina. 

RESPONSE: The South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium initiated a needs assessment to determine the level of interest in South Carolina for the establishment of an EE Certification Program. A state-wide survey was distributed and a roundtable discussion was convened during the 2013 South Carolina Marine Educators Association Conference.

  1. 153 people responded to the state-wide survey in a 2-week response time.
  2. Results indicated a strong level of demand for the establishment of an EE Certification Program in South Carolina.
  3. 44% of respondents indicated their interest in staying involved in the development of the program.
  4. Additional funding in the amount of $8,800 was secured to host 2 focus groups, develop steering committees, and outline a plan for a pilot program in 2014 or 2015.
RECAP: The Consortium is leading the development of an EE Certification program in South Carolina due to a high level of interest and demand.

Elementary Grade-level Buoy and ROV Projects Piloted at Title 1 Schools to Support STEM
PI: Education Elizabeth Bell, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium

The South Carolina State Department of Education reported that in 2012 40% of 3rd graders failed the science section of the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (PASS). The educational pipeline for science begins at the elementary level; however, resources are lacking for those teachers and students in upper elementary grade levels (3-5). In addition, as South Carolina continues to recruit industrial giants (e.g. Boeing) and serve as a leader in marine science research, students are presented with the potential to enter STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) careers, but because of low achievement, students may lack the skills with which to be competitive.

RESPONSE: The Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence – SouthEast (COSEE SE), administered by the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, piloted an elementary grade-level buoy project (eBOB) and ROV-es (Remotely Operated Vehicles for Elementary Students) at Title 1 schools. The eBOB project was piloted to 75 4th graders between 2011 and 2013 and ROV-es was piloted with 79 5th graders in 2013. 

  1. Publication of the eBOB project in the October 2013 issue of the National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) journal Science and Children.
  2. Invitation for eBOB to be a featured exhibit at the Elementary Extravaganza held during the 2014 NSTA national conference in Boston, MA.
  3. Invitation for eBOBs to be a featured exhibit for the Charleston STEM Festival.
  4. Development of two lesson plans for the eBOB project and three lesson plans for the ROV-es project.
  5. Presentation of ROV-es at the 2013 National Marine Educators Association Conference.
RECAP: The Consortium piloted the eBOB and ROV-es projects to enhance STEM and inquiry skills for elementary school age children.

COSEE SE Fosters Science-to-Education Connections through the Researcher-Educator Exchange Forum (REEF)
PI: Elizabeth Bell, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium

In 2001, the National Science Foundation (NSF) established support for COSEE (Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence) centers to bridge education and scientific communities for quality marine education opportunities including professional development for teachers, K-12 student programs, teacher research experiences, and others. In 2010, NSF shifted the national COSEE focus to specifically assist scientists with the broader impacts of their research.

RESPONSE: From 2011-2013, the COSEE southeast center  (COSEE SE), administered by the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, tested a new model that developed communities of practice (CoP) inclusive of scientists, educators and communication professionals to broadly disseminate scientific research. This workshop was called REEF (Researcher Educator Exchange Forum) and was a 2-day event that provided regional scientists with techniques for communicating effectively to the media, formal educators and informal science audiences. CoP teams were expected to develop and deliver outreach programs at an Informal Science Center (e.g.: aquarium) following the forum.

RESULTS: Since the launch of REEF in 2010, there have been 5 REEF workshops, 42 outreach projects and events, and a total of 4,498 participants in the outreach components. Specifically for this reporting period, 3 REEF events were conducted for 62 participants and 25 outreach events were conducted at informal science centers. In addition, in 2013, a team of scientists from UNC-Chapel Hill who were graduates from the 2012 REEF (and had previously conducted an outreach event), secured external funding to conduct an outreach event that included 80 scientists and 130 participants.

RECAP: COSEE SE’s Researcher Educator Exchange Forum program was effective at assisting scientists with communicating the broader impacts of their research to a variety of audiences.

From Seeds to Shoreline: Engaging Students in Salt Marsh Restoration
Elizabeth Bell, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium

Several education programs are offered in South Carolina that focus on the importance of the salt marsh; however, no student-based stewardship efforts existed until 2010 when the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium launched the From Seeds to Shoreline (S2S) program ( S2S engages students in cultivating and transplanting Spartina alterniflora, the dominant plant of the salt marsh, to coastal areas. As the program continues to expand (currently 27 participating schools), the partners of S2S (The Consortium, along with Clemson University Cooperative Extension and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources) are implementing methods to meet the increasing demand while preserving the quality of instruction.         

RESPONSE: Three workshops were conducted for 27 teachers that served as a pre-requisite to participate in the S2S program. These workshops encouraged more autonomy by equipping teachers with the resources to tailor the program to suit the needs of their students. S2S also increased its partner restoration sites to include the City of Mount Pleasant and Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission.

  1. Expansion from 8 to 10 coastal and inland county schools serving 8 restoration sites (Beaufort, Colleton, Charleston, Georgetown, Horry, Richland, Hampton, Williamsburg, Hemingway, Hampton).
  2. Student participation increased from 1,200 to 1,600
  3. Best practices for restoration techniques have been developed.
  4. Bright Ideas Award won by one school for the purchase of S2S supplies. 
  5. Two graduate students were involved -- one co-coordinated the workshops and provided activity instruction; the other student is evaluating shoreline impact of restored sites based on stem height and total vegetative cover.
RECAP: The From Seeds to Shoreline Program has expanded since 2010 to include a broader geographic impact and additional programmatic resources.

Golf professionals learn about the ecosystem services provided by oysters
PI: Julie Davis, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium

Sea Pines Resort recently completed an oyster restoration project to prevent shoreline erosion adjacent to their 18th green. As part of the Resort’s sustainability initiatives, they are working to promote the ecosystem services provided by these oysters to their guests. This is just one of Sea Pines’ sustainability initiatives; another is to host the annual ‘Sustainability in Golf’ Conference which brings together golf professionals from across the nation to discuss methods of reducing the environmental impact of golf courses and resorts. Over 60 golf course and resort managers from throughout the nation, including major resort franchises, are represented. Sea Pines’ Facilities Manager viewed the Consortium’s oyster filtering demonstration at an Earth Day event and invited the Consortium to participate in the Conference.

The Consortium presented a hands-on demonstration of the ability of oysters to filter seawater at the national Sustainability in Golf Conference, Hilton Head, SC on October 3, 2013. An oyster restoration project on the Sea Pines course was highlighted as part of the evening reception.

RESULTS: Ninety six people were engaged in discussions about the filtering abilities of oysters through a friendly competition on which oyster would clear the water first. The winner received a water flow meter and challenged all conference participants to monitor their water usage. Twenty-five copies of the Consortium’s Coastal Heritage were distributed. The Consortium has been invited back to the conference in 2014 to talk about oysters and also to talk about stormwater pond management. Due to its success, the conference is being turned into an annual event.

RECAP: The South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium uses hands-on display to demonstrate to golf professionals the ecosystem services provided by oysters.

Last updated: 9/28/2015 11:35:40 AM
FY13-14 – Scientific Literacy and Workforce Development


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