On November 9-11, 2009, the Sea Grant Climate Network, a national collaboration among Sea Grant extension agents, communicators, and educators, held its first workshop, “Climate Adaptation in Coastal Communities: A Network Approach to Outreach.”
The workshop had two objectives: strengthening the capacity within the Sea Grant network to plan, deliver, and evaluate climate-outreach programs tailored to the needs of local communities; and implementing and evaluating five projects to explore the impacts of climate change and educate communities, which could lead to action in climate-change adaptation.
More than 90 Sea Grant outreach representatives, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) representatives, and other community and university partners attended the workshop in person. An additional 48 people attended online Webcasts. Workshop participants collaborated with community decision-making partners to develop low-cost projects that will be completed in their communities over the following year using the tools and techniques learned at the workshop.
Along the South Carolina coast, a local partner is the Kitchen Table Climate Study Group, comprising citizens from McClellanville, a village (pop. 500) north of Charleston, and the surrounding rural area. Worried about their community’s future, group members are collaborating to stay current on scientific findings and forecasts of climate change.
“The Kitchen Table Climate Study Group wants people to be more informed about climate change, but keeping up with the science is time-consuming,” says Jessica Whitehead, regional climate extension specialist for the S.C. and N.C. Sea Grant Extension programs. “Sea Grant can help by assembling the latest climate science information and presenting it in ways that help the Kitchen Table group stay current and help similar new study groups get started.”
In May 2010, the Sea Grant programs in the Southeast and the NOAA Southeastern and Caribbean Regional Team (SECART) will host a workshop focused on enhancing climate engagement capacity throughout the region.
Workshop invitees could include Sea Grant extension agents, NOAA personnel with outreach responsibilities, and climate experts from within the region (Regional Climate Centers, state climate offices) and from across the nation (NOAA Climate Program Office, academic leaders, and other agencies).
“Providing coastal decision-makers with the latest credible information about climate variability and climate change is a task larger than any single agency,” says Whitehead.