S.C. Sea Grant Consortium Highly Rated by National Site Review Team
A National Sea Grant Site Review Team visited the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium on September 1-2, 2015. The purpose of the site visit was to evaluate our Sea Grant program’s management and organization, stakeholder engagement, and collaborative network activities. The Consortium was highly rated by the Site Review Team (SRT), which determined the Consortium meets the “standards of excellence” expected of all Sea Grant programs.
The SRT praised the Consortium as being the go-to agency in the state for coastal and ocean information and assistance, for developing a huge reservoir of involved stakeholders, and for serving as a neutral party capable of brokering solutions to issues. Particular commendation went to Consortium Executive Director Rick DeVoe and his staff for building partnerships that integrate research, outreach, and education on coastal issues. According to the SRT, the consortium model – while not typical for Sea Grant programs – is extremely effective and creates a culture of collaboration to address the needs of stakeholders within the state and Southeast region in partnership with other organizations.
The SRT also applauded the Consortium for stepping up when federal support was eliminated for the highly successful Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence. The Consortium filled that void in South Carolina with projects such as From Seeds to Shoreline, a student-driven salt marsh restoration education effort, as well as a new Amazing Coasts curriculum aligned to South Carolina standards for grades three through five.
Three Best Management Practices (BMP) were identified by the Site Review Team. One was for the “study groups” initiative in which small grants were used to fund integrated teams to work on practical, emerging issues for the benefit of local communities. The teams consist of a Consortium extension specialist, a graduate student, a researcher, and a community organization member. Another BMP is the Consortium’s visioning exercise, currently underway, which is engaging a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss what they foresee the future to be like 20-30 years from now. Of particular importance is how the Consortium should position itself to remain relevant and responsive to the needs of our stakeholders in areas such as technology, economic development, and societal changes in population and diversity. The third BMP cited was the development of the S.C. Coastal Information Network , which brings together outreach professionals from 18 organizations and works in “an atmosphere that escapes the notion of competition, focuses on collaboration, and avoids duplication of effort,” according to the SRT.
Visit the Consortium’s website to read the National Sea Grant Site Review Report, which contains the Consortium’s Briefing Book as an addendum.