In the spring, the National Sea Grant Office conducted a thorough two-day site visit of the Wisconsin Sea Grant College Program. The office brought in experts in other fields within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with a member of the National Sea Grant Advisory Board, a Chicago businessman with years of experience in planning and environmental monitoring.
The final report from that site visit has just been released. It highlights four best-management practices other programs within the Sea Grant Network may want to adopt. It also outlines findings in the areas of program management, including strategic planning; research endeavors; and engagement with partners and stakeholders.
The best-management practices are as follows:
- A strong and forward-looking information technology system. Particular praise was leveled on the online system for research proposal submission and reporting.
- The system in place to track and survey former Wisconsin Sea Grant-funded students.
- Clear management principles and objectives. There is a very clear focus on the roles to be played by outreach specialists.
- A workshop for prospective principal investigators to develop proposals more fully. The workshop connects outreach specialists and communications personnel as well, to ensure an integrated approach with the research.
The state Sea Grant program is also a benefit to the people of Wisconsin, according to the report, which noted, “Wisconsin Sea Grant’s work across the state is well aligned with the ‘Wisconsin Idea’ and serves to distribute university expertise and benefits to students and communities across Wisconsin.”
The report praised the work of Wisconsin Sea Grant’s outreach specialists, saying they have “earned a reputation as a trusted source of unbiased scientific information. The program’s grounding in the university and the rigor of its research allows other agencies and organizations to rely on Sea Grant to serve as a provider of credible scientific matters throughout the Great Lakes.”
Wisconsin Sea Grant is the first Sea Grant College Program in the Great Lakes and has been providing science for the sustainable use of regional marine and coastal resources for 43 years. It is one of 32 Sea Grant programs nationwide.