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Conjuring 30 Years of Sea Grant

Jeff Gunderson

I have written Bow Watch columns for the Seiche before, but this is my first as the director of the University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program. Even though I have been interim director three times, I was not really ready for the feelings that emerged when I was offered the job.

I am humbled and inspired by this new appointment. The interview process provided an opportunity for me to become retrospective about my Sea Grant career, a career that stretches back to graduate school and my work on a Sea Grant-funded project in Wisconsin. Earning my degree while conducting research on a relevant topic and seeing our research translated from technical detail to understandable practical applications, which impacted the lives of commercial fishermen, demonstrated the three primary components of the Sea Grant mission Ė research, outreach, and education. I realized that the model that I participated in all those years ago is more important than ever, even though technology has changed how we do business.

Jeff Gunderson

In looking back, I also realized that Iíve changed substantially. Just look at the photos!

Thinking about the past conjures memories of those who inspired and mentored me over my 30 years with Minnesota Sea Grant.

Dale Baker influenced me the most. He was the first person on the Minnesota Sea Grant payroll and is whom we consider the father of our program. Dale knew how to conduct effective outreach and taught many of us how to be successful at engaging our audiences. He was recognized nationally for his contributions to Sea Grant when he retired.

I was also fortunate to serve under three directors after the administrative office was moved to Duluth. Mike McDonald, Carl Richards, and Steve Bortone were excellent leaders for our program and each set a new bar for how science directs our mission and vision. I plan to use what I learned from them to maintain our focus on using science-based understanding to address relevant Lake Superior and Minnesota inland water issues and problems.

Now that Iíve taken this trip down memory lane, I am excited about the future of Minnesota Sea Grant and the ways our program will continue to serve as a source for conducting and extending Superior Science and other aquatic research in Minnesota and the Great Lakes.

By Jeff Gunderson
December 2009

Return to December 2009 Seiche

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