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How Sea Grant Works

Carl Richards - headshot

To those unfamiliar with Sea Grant programs across the country, the process Minnesota Sea Grant uses to choose projects for funding probably seems like a black box. I thought it would be useful to clarify how Minnesota Sea Grant fits into the big picture.

Minnesota Sea Grant is one of 30 Sea Grant programs located at universities on marine and freshwater coasts around the country. We are part of a network that works together to accomplish national goals that are fine-tuned to regional needs.

Individual Sea Grant programs are a partnership between the federal government (the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA) and the lead university in the state. In our case, we are located administratively at the University of Minnesota Duluth, but we provide funds and may have programming throughout the University of Minnesota system as well as other public universities in the state.

Our funding is made up of a combination of federal and state monies. For every $2 that NOAA provides, the state matches $1. Minnesota Sea Grant’s total annual core funding (NOAA plus state) is approximately $1.4 million.

The flavor of research and outreach projects we fund is dictated partially by NOAA’s strategic mission (www.spo.noaa.gov), which states national directions and needs regarding coastal and oceanographic resources in broad terms. They are also influenced by National Sea Grant’s mission to utilize talent from top universities to tailor research and outreach needs to regional priorities.

Here is where the uniqueness of individual programs comes into play. A Sea Grant program in Florida obviously has a different set of coastal resources and challenges to face than our own here in the uppermost of the Great Lakes. Research and outreach topics pursued in that state follow those challenges. The same could be said for the Alaska program or any other program on America’s marine coastlines.

Nonetheless, you will see similarities in the topics addressed because Sea Grant programs organize around common central themes. While ecosystems and fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of Alaska are considerably different than Lake Superior, you’ll find that Sea Grant programs are all funding ecosystem research. While the nature of coastal development and land use is different among these diverse areas, you’ll also find that Sea Grant is involved in outreach and research activities directed at those issues.

As with other Sea Grant programs, our agenda is tuned to local geography and culture by Sea Grant staff consulting a knowledgeable advisory committee, listening to feedback from communities, and participating on committees. Ultimately this results in a portfolio of research and outreach projects that have withstood rigorous peer review and serve our stakeholders.

Carl Richards' signature
Carl Richards
Minnesota Sea Grant Director


By Carl Richards
April 2005

Return to April 2005 Seiche



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