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Homage

Director Steve Bortone

I will be leaving Minnesota Sea Grant in May to take a position as Executive Director of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. For me, this new position represents a great opportunity to help our nation’s fishery resources at a critical time in their history.

Having truly enjoyed my nearly three-year stint as Director of Minnesota Sea Grant, I leave with a deep appreciation of this region and its people. I learned about the Northland and much about Lake Superior, but mostly I gained insight into the community of people that visit the area and especially those who call this place home.

In my wake, I leave a program that operates with the highest of Sea Grant ideals (offering science-based information without bias and without advocating a particular position) while keeping in touch with the needs of people as they work and play on and along Minnesota’s bountiful and still clear waters. I'm envious of those carrying on this work, a staff of the most competent professionals available.

At the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, three Sea Granters make up my stalwart staff. Connie Post as Senior Accountant has maintained accuracy with our books and has literally helped set the accounting standard for Sea Grant. Barb Liukkonen, Water Resources Educator, stands apart with her highly regarded and extraordinary reputation as an extension agent. Alas, she will be retiring within weeks of my own departure. Dr. Anne Kapuscinski, Fisheries Specialist, has served as our expert in fisheries genetics and in the burgeoning discipline of natural resource sustainability. Having earned international respect for her work, Dartmouth College has offered her an endowed chair in the green pastures of New Hampshire. She leaves in July.

Extending information from Duluth, Sea Grant's expert educators, Jesse Schomberg and Cindy Hagley, are unsurpassed in their passion to purvey the latest information on environmental planning and water quality to a variety of audiences throughout the state. Doug Jensen, Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator, has earned his reputation as the "go to" person in Minnesota on issues pertaining to aquatic invasive species. Dale Bergeron, Maritime Extension Educator, collaborates with the shipping industry in a unique way that has given all the Sea Grant programs in the Great Lakes more opportunities to work with coastal industries.

Our communications staff links us to all our audiences. Until she recently accepted a position in Rochester, Minn., Marie Zhuikov, led our communications with professional aplomb. Ably filling her shoes are a triumvirate of staff communicators: Dee Angradi, Publications Assistant, quietly but masterfully fulfills requests for information (some of which are very strange!); Chris Benson, Graphic Designer and Web Developer, uses his artistic perspective and technical know-how to help Sea Grant's science and programs live on a virtual plane as well as a physical one; and Sharon Moen serves as more than our Science Writer and can turn my incoherent ramblings into polished prose.

Research remains the heart of Sea Grant. Dr. Valerie Brady oversees our research program in such a way that I'm confident that research will continue as the cornerstone of Minnesota Sea Grant long after my exodus.

Administratively, there is Judy Zomerfelt, Minnesota Sea Grant's veteran Executive Secretary of 34 years whose knowledge of the program's colorful history is uncanny. Debbie Bowen, the program's Information Technology and Business Manager, is indispensable to our operations. Bjorn Werner, Information Technology Specialist, keeps us wired while our energetic and responsible student workers (currently Josie Thole and Hanna Fossum) keep our administrative operations flowing.

And then, there is Jeff Gunderson. Jeff, Associate Director and Program Leader, has been my "right hand," and sometimes my left one, too. His assistance, perspective, knowledge and guidance has allowed my work in Minnesota to be especially productive and successful.

To each of my staff I humbly offer a heart-felt: "Thank You, I could not have done it without you." I bid farewell to all my dear friends, advisory committee members, and colleagues associated with Sea Grant and (to borrow a line from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) "…so long and thanks for all the fish!"

Steve Bortone signature

Steve Bortone
Minnesota Sea Grant
Director


By Steve Bortone
April 2009

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