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Parting Shot

Photos of Jeff Gunderson

Spending 36 years with Minnesota Sea Grant has been absolutely gratifying. When I applied for the fisheries extension position in 1979 I wrote this on my application: Career Goal To work in an aquatic resource position in which I am actively contributing my knowledge and leadership while continuing to learn and grow professionally.

Though perhaps not the most creative statement ever written, I am privileged to say that Sea Grant enabled me to achieve this goal. It was what I felt at the time and now, as I approach retirement, it is what I appreciated most about being part of Minnesota Sea Grant. As I've told many others over the years, "If you ever get bored working for Sea Grant, it's your own damn fault."

I appreciated being part of an organization that is non-advocacy, non-regulatory and that works to address real problems and issues by disseminating science-based information. Sea Grant rarely accomplishes anything without great partnerships. Developing these partnerships and working with teams to help the economy, the environment and people have been rewarding.

Our recent national site review was emblematic of this. A five-member team flew in to evaluate the program mainly with respect to our stakeholder engagement and collaborations. Minnesota Sea Grant staff invited people they work with to speak to this team. These people said truly outstanding things about the program, as did the University of Minnesota Duluth's Chancellor and University of Minnesota's Vice-president for Research. Sometimes we don't fully appreciate how our efforts are so valued by those we work with.

It takes a review like this to force us to examine these relationships with other organizations and the people for whom we work. For me, with retirement looming, the January site visit took on special meaning. It reinforced my satisfaction with spending my entire career with Sea Grant.

And, of course, the people I've worked with at Sea Grant over the years have been very special to me. I don't know if it is the type of work that attracts good, dedicated, passionate people or I've just been lucky to be associated with so many with these characteristics. Over my 36 years, there have been many people that have mentored me, been excellent role models, encouraged me, made me laugh, and just made the work experience feel more like a family experience. One of the things I got the biggest kick out of is when I was sitting in my office and laughter came rolling down the hallway. While I don't know why they were laughing, I took it as a positive sign that things at Minnesota Sea Grant were going well.

I'm going to miss our stakeholders, our collaborators, our Advisory Committee and the folks at Sea Grant both in Minnesota and around the nation. But I look forward to the next chapter with great enthusiasm. For me it is almost like graduating from high school; I knew I was going to college, but I wasn't sure where that would take me. I'm not sure where retirement is going to take me either but I'm going to work hard to enjoy the experience and hope this next stage is as wonderful as the last.

Thanks all of you.

Jeff Gunderson retired on April 1, 2015.

By Jeff Gunderson
June 2015

Return to June 2015 Seiche

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