Guam’s Sea Grant becomes an institutional program

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NOAA and Sea Grant are pleased to announce that Guam Sea Grant has been granted Institutional Sea Grant program status, a growth designation from the previous Coherent Area Program status. The designation comes on the unanimous recommendation of Sea Grant’s National Advisory Board and NOAA senior management. As an institutional program, Guam Sea Grant will be able to increase its contributions to the national Sea Grant network and improve the practical use and conservation of Guam’s marine and coastal resources.

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“Guam Sea Grant has achieved Institutional Sea Grant program status by demonstrating excellence in research, education, and public service dedicated to the environmentally sound management and development of Guam’s marine and coastal resources” , said Jonathan Pennock, PhD, director of the National Sea Grant College program. “Congratulations to the University of Guam, Guam Sea Grant leadership, and all staff involved in the remarkable growth of Guam Sea Grant over the past few years, which has made this designation a clear and well-deserved step forward.”

Since 2012, Guam Sea Grant has supported activities around the U.S. territory of Guam as part of a Cohesive Area Program. These activities have focused on STEM and ecosystem education efforts at the academic and professional level, watershed management and conservation, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, and climate variability. In addition, Guam Sea Grant’s research capacity has gradually increased in recent years. Their program supports well-aligned research, which includes outreach and education initiatives, and funding for graduate scholarships.

In the spring of 2020, University of Guam President Dr. Thomas Krise, with support from Guam Sea Grant Director Dr. Austin Shelton, submitted a Letter of Intent to lead the Guam Institutional Sea Grant program. Sea Grant Director Dr. Jonathan Pennock determined that Guam Sea Grant was eligible and appointed the Sea Grant National Advisory Board to lead the institutional status review.

The National Sea Grant Advisory Board conducted a review and virtual site visit of Guam Sea Grant in fall 2021. During the review, Guam Sea Grant was evaluated on 10 criteria: leadership, organization, relevance, approach scheduled team building, education and training, extension and advisory services, relationships, productivity, support and high performance continuity.

“The truly collaborative relationships between Guam Sea Grant and its partner organizations will be a great asset to the Territory of Guam as they connect across Micronesia and the Pacific in search of opportunities to advance the region’s goals in in natural resource management, climate resilience, food security, workforce development, and education,” reads the report of the board’s Guam Institutional Status Review Committee.

After the Council recommended that Guam Sea Grant receive designation of Sea Grant Institute status, the designation was approved by NOAA in the spring of 2022.

“We are grateful to the National Sea Grant College Program for recognizing us as a trusted leader and partner in our community, able to deliver effective programs tailored to local, regional and national priorities,” said Austin Shelton, PhD, director of Guam Sea Grant. “We look forward to celebrating this achievement with our community.”

Guam Sea Grant will locally celebrate its Institutional Status designation with a “Graduation Ceremony” on Thursday, August 11, 2022. The event will include formal remarks from Guam Sea Grant Director Dr. Shelton and National Sea Grant Director College Program, Dr. Pennock, accompanied by a concert and seafood.

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