Communicating about climate

The calendar has flipped to 2024. Our staff members are already tackling new projects. Before they move too deeply into the new year, however, some staff members took a moment to retain the glow of their favorite 2023 project. Moira Harrington, assistant director for communications, shared her thoughts.

I make my living by communicating things—research findings, how we wisely spend the money we get through two federal grants and the activities of my coworkers who give advice on topics like water quality, Great Lakes fish or bluff erosion. Communicating is my job but it’s also personally meaningful and rewarding work.

Moira Harrington. Image credit: Wisconsin Sea Grant

I don’t make a living serving as a volunteer member of the Board of Park Commissioners in my hometown. It’s not a job but it, too, is meaningful and rewarding work.

In 2023, Sea Grant work and volunteer work came together. Upon reflection, it was one of my most rewarding experiences for the year. Six of my colleagues contributed to a far-reaching and valuable resource, the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change report (2021). For my day job, I’ve communicated about the report, and I recently had the chance to share its findings with city staff and fellow park commissioners.

We focused on the report’s tourism and outdoor recreation chapter, talking about how changes in the climate would affect our decisions and policymaking surrounding things like park infrastructure, scheduling recreational sporting events, what plant species in our conservation parks will flourish or fail and ADA access when perhaps more amenities are affected by storms or flooding.

It was a good feeling to see a tangible use for a report my coworkers put so much effort into and that I could spotlight for those serving my city who, before this, had not been familiar with the resource. All around, it was communication satisfaction.