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Florida Sea Grant Specialist to Conduct Workshop, Get Feedback on Oil Spills

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Among her many duties, University of Florida Sea Grant specialist Monica Wilson tries to connect researchers and oil spill responders so they understand how to deal with such events. That’s because the livelihoods of so many people – including commercial fishermen and tourist-related businesses — are involved.

To achieve that goal, Wilson has conducted many workshops in states along the Gulf Coast. She will host the last of these public workshops from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., April 24, at the Karen Steidinger Auditorium in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Wilson, a Gulf oil spill research Extension specialist with the UF/IFAS Extension Florida Sea Grant program, will host the seminar and facilitate a discussion with those in attendance.

The workshop is designed to bring area scientists and emergency responders together to network, communicate and form partnerships. Scientists will share results, and responders will explain their processes and priorities during an oil spill.

“These meetings have been a great way to get the two different groups in the same room, since they usually don’t encounter one another in their professional lives,” Wilson said. “As much as they learn in the presentations, I think the best part is the breakout groups where they really get to talk to one another, share information directly about their work and discuss ways to collaborate more.”

Wilson is part of the Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant oil spill science outreach program, which started in 2014, four years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Sea Grant specialists were given a list of target audiences who rely on a healthy Gulf for work or play. Among the stakeholders are oil spill researchers and responders, tourism professionals, commercial and recreational fishermen, natural resource managers and others.

Through these meetings and other events, the team found a need for increased collaboration between academic researchers and oil spill responders.

To meet this need, Wilson convened a meeting in Port Aransas, Texas, in April 2015, to get people who study oil spills in a room with people whose job is to respond to them.

Wilson wanted to give researchers and responders a chance to learn from one another — to share interests and frustrations, hoping to find common ground on what aspects of oil spill science would be the most helpful to responders.

Participant feedback at the Texas workshop provided the foundation for subsequent workshops in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

To attend the April 24 forum at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, 100 8th Ave SE, St. Petersburg, Florida, you must register by April 17. Click here to register.

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By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

 

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