On Air: Healthy Watersheds Workshop Held in Dunkirk
Coastal Community Development Program - News


Mary Austerman, Great Lakes Coastal Community Specialist, P: 315-331-8415, E: mp357@cornell.edu

Oswego, NY, October 18, 2022 - The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and New York Sea Grant will hold a local government training workshop for healthy watersheds and resilient communities in the city of Dunkirk next month. 

Dave White, New York Sea Grant's Coastal Recreation and Tourism Specialist, says the workshop will be held on Wednesday, November 2 at the Clarion Hotel. He is encouraging local government leaders, local planning officials, and others to attend the event from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.

You can listen to White's full conversation in on the clip below ...


If you don't see the player above, it's because you're using a non-Flash device (eg, iPhone or iPad). You can download the mp3 file by clicking here (mp3). It may take a few minutes to download, so please be patient.

The DEC, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy and Lake Erie Watershed Protection Alliance are also co-sponsoring the event.

Call (315) 312-3042 for more information about the Dunkirk workshop.

White spoke with News Director Dave Rowley on WDOE 1040 AM / 94.9 FM's "Viewpoint" program, which is broadcast in the greater Syracuse and Oswego regions. 

Viewpoint airs on WDOE Monday through Friday at 8:45am. Dave Rowley has been handling the hosting duties for more than 20 years, interviewing local, county and state elected officials. Community groups are also featured on the 15-minute live interview show. Listeners email their questions to Dave, who includes those inquires in the interviews.

You can also listen to the entire "Viewpoint" program featuring Dave White of New York Sea Grant in the clip below ...


If you don't see the player above, it's because you're using a non-Flash device (eg, iPhone or iPad). You can download the mp3 file by clicking here (mp3). It may take a few minutes to download, so please be patient.

Full Transcript: 

Speaker1: [00:00:00] It's time for Viewpoint. Here's your host, Dave Rowley. And welcome to Viewpoint on our live line this morning we have David G. Dave White the II and Dave welcome to the program, New York Sea Grant environmentally friendly career we're going to be talking about today yours.

Speaker2: [00:00:28] Good morning, Dave. How are you today?

Speaker1: [00:00:29] I'm [00:00:30] doing well. I'm doing well. And you have fed quite, quite a career as a New York Sea Grant, coastal recreation and tourism specialist. How many years 38?

Speaker2: [00:00:46] 38 years. And I must have started when I was very, very young. But yes, 38 wonderful careers of working with just some great folks when we talk about Great Lakes and Inland water issues and just chatting with people like [00:01:00] yourself and helping, you know, share the information that we have. So it's been a great ride and it's great to be with you this morning.

Speaker1: [00:01:06] Now, Dave, what what got you into this line of work?

Speaker2: [00:01:11] You know, I got into it somewhat by accident. I mean, I have a background in natural resources. I went to SUNY Morrisville and Cornell University and College of Environmental Science and Forestry and began my career actually as a vocational agriculture teacher and when I was getting my master's degree, I met a colleague who worked for New York Sea Grant and [00:01:30] actually he's the one that vacated the position. I then got in, it just started me on a career. I always loved education with both formal and informal and, you know, got you got started, you know, talking about Great Lakes issues. And my background was in natural resources and recreation and just loved working with the communities and the individuals along, you know, our various lakes both inland and the Great Lakes now on a variety of coastal issues.

Speaker1: [00:01:57] Now, I know your work actually has taken [00:02:00] you to some high levels of government. You can't get much higher than the White House. And you took part in a 2012 briefing on Great Lakes issues. Maybe tell us a little bit about that highlight in your career and what are some of the key focus areas?

Speaker2: [00:02:22] Yeah, yeah, I've been fortunate. I've worked with a number of people both here in upstate New York, but nationally and internationally [00:02:30] on a variety of issues when it comes to coastal management and coastal use, which is a real, real focus of mine. And yeah, having been invited to that White House conference and, you know, talking with folks at the highest level about what the Great Lakes issues were, to help them understand from, you know, the community and the user level. And I'm a user, you know, first and foremost, you know, as a tourism and recreation specialist, I always say, you know, I love boating, I love touring, I love visiting all of our places. So, you know, I [00:03:00] know from where I speak and having been had that opportunity to share at that level, what are we seeing as users and communities? Because sometimes that does get lost. I mean, you know, we can be honest about that. I mean, sometimes those, you know, real basic issues as it goes up through the food chain can get lost very quickly. So being able to share that was, you know, obviously a highlight.

Speaker1: [00:03:20] Now, you have worked with a diverse group of partners on a variety of projects. Maybe share us some of the tips [00:03:30] that you have for developing these collaborations, marine industry and others.

Speaker2: [00:03:36] You know, as I've looked back and, you know, going through 38 years of files because I'm a packrat and as I look back and I start piling things up for my predecessor, you know, my successor and just going through it, I realized it. And I say this in all honesty, I haven't done anything, you know, in my boss laughs when I say that everything I've done has been in partnership with either a user group, business group, a state [00:04:00] agency, partners, NGOs, you know, So, as you know, I was a mouthpiece, I was a face, I was in front of the room, I was behind the scenes, but I was always working with a handful of folks. And, you know, to this day, some of them are some of my best friends and colleagues. And it's just been a delight because there's so many people that work within this realm, within these issues, and they all bring a different perspective in being in the room with them and learning from them, I think has made me not only a better person, but the education programs I've done [00:04:30] better for, you know, the citizenry.

Speaker1: [00:04:32] Now, in 2016, one of the stops that that you made and it was by special requests American Samoa teaching safe. Yeah. Tell us about this.

Speaker2: [00:04:47] You know, I laughed when I got that phone call because it was through the National Marine Sanctuary Program, which I've done a lot of work with, and we're continuing to work with here for a possible designation in Lake Ontario. You know, and I asked him, where are we going? And he said, American [00:05:00] Samoa. I had to laugh because in my early career back in 1985, I almost went to Samoa for six months, but it just didn't work out. So having had the opportunity to then get there and work with those folks on clean and safe boating issues, you know, bringing that message to them and bringing that understanding to them at the island level. I appreciate that they got a lot out of it. But because of my work with the Marine Sanctuary program across the country and here in New York, it probably educated [00:05:30] me as much as them and, you know, learning about sanctuary operations, but, you know, also different cultures and just being a part of that. You know, I'm fortunate. I guess I was long enough in the tooth to be able to work with a lot of those great kind of partners. And getting those kind of invitations are certainly highlights for, you know, anyone in a career like mine.

Speaker1: [00:05:47] And what makes this message of water conservation so universal? I mean, as you mentioned, you spoke about it with it during that [00:06:00] visit to American Samoa. We're hearing more and more about this even locally.

Speaker2: [00:06:09] I think we have we, including myself, we're just a much more educated citizenry about the use of our resources. I mean, I have definitely seen all of us, you know, you know, many of us had our back to our water resources. And I think we've turned around and it's our front door and our front porch looking out at those resources. So I think we all have gained a better appreciation for what we have [00:06:30] and a better understanding for what we have. And a lot of folks have asked me, you know, now you're going to retire. You know, you know, where are you moving to? Which I found fascinating that that's the first question people ask. And, you know, just, you know, you and I chatting where where you're located and where I am sitting here, we can go, you know, an hour to 3 hours and be in some of the great greatest mountain ranges in the world, some of the best water. We talk about Lake Erie, we talk about Chautauqua Lake, we talk about going up to Ontario, some of the best water resources [00:07:00] in the world, some of the best ski resorts. I mean, I can go on for my career and I often will say to people, if you can find me any place in the world that I can do what I can do here in New York from 2 hours from my house, I'll move. No one has ever been able to identify that and find it. And I think we all have come to appreciate that we can all complain about things we don't like about the state we live in, but we cannot complain about the natural resources and the opportunities we have in New York [00:07:30] that no one bar none in the world, has access to like we do in New York.

Speaker1: [00:07:35] Yeah, I have to agree with you there because, you know, we often take what we have in our own backyard for granted, but we live in a great area, very diverse area.

Speaker2: [00:07:49] Absolutely. And, you know, I've been fortunate to train with people on it or about it and learn from it. And I've just enjoyed sharing that, you know, enthusiasm, but really [00:08:00] sharing with folks, you know, think about staycations. You know, when we think about, you know, different times when we've had to take advantage of staying local. And I just love it when somebody all of a sudden goes, Wow, geez, I didn't realize we had, you know, X or Y or Z as this great resource better repeating like a safe Chautauqua Lake or getting out on Lake Erie or in Dunkirk Harbor or up to Silver Creek? I mean, all of a sudden when people say that and they go, Wow, I didn't know that that's the win, because then, you know, they really can appreciate what we have. They can appreciate that with their family and [00:08:30] really share that with their family. Paddle Sports has opened up an entire, you know, component of our citizenry to be able to take advantage of these resources with inflatable paddle boards and kayaks. So, you know, all those technologies we've seen as well have opened up our resources to people that may not have had a chance to five, ten years ago. And that's what enthuses me. That's what is enthused me from day one about the job is seeing the excitement in people, but also seeing them then get engaged as part of the citizenry to make sure we're taking care of these resources for future generations. [00:09:00]

Speaker1: [00:09:00] Now, you've often jumped right into the water to educate audiences from the warm weather days of August, right to the cold temperatures of February during a boat show. What is your theory of education? Is it about making learning fun?

Speaker2: [00:09:23] It's about making learning fun. And I always remember the day that I talked to the boat show manager about the [00:09:30] in, you know, in pool demonstrations. And I was walking into his office and I said, you know, I'm talking to my colleagues. And we really would like to share with people some of this newer technology with lifejackets. And I'm an honest person. I looked at him and I go, I would not go to a seminar about life jackets. It's a snoozer. I'm not going to talk to a lot of people in a booth. It's just it's not going to excite me, I said. But to jump in a pool and show people how they work, I think will excite people. And he looked at me and he said, Hey, if you're willing to jump in a 50 degree pool, you know, 15 [00:10:00] times over three days, I'm willing to install one. And it did. It really worked well because people could see us in the water. We could show them how it worked. We could show them what an inflatable was. They could feel it, they could see it, they could talk to us, you know, idiots. You know, I called us the fools in the pool, but it's just it's just a teaching technique that we always have to be thinking about. How can we really make it relevant to people? How can we make it fun, make it entertaining, but truly make it educational at its core?

Speaker1: [00:10:27] Now we have to ask you, those [00:10:30] 38 years, have you seen changes when it comes to our Great Lakes like Erie, Lake Ontario?

Speaker2: [00:10:39] Oh, you know, absolutely. We can you know, we could spend hours talking about the environmental changes, you know, the cleaning up of the Great Lakes over that, you know, 38, 40 years that, you know, we continue to see today invasive species issues. You know, there's a lot of things we can talk about. And to me, again, at the core, the big [00:11:00] change has been the involvement of citizenry in all of those issues, whether we're talking to a landowner about erosion and how they can best protect their property, because as they best protect their property and help protect the resource, as we talk to voters about being good, clean and safe voters, you know, keeping environmental product out of the water, it just becomes a natural for all of us. And that to me has been the big thing is a lot of this stuff just makes sense. And when we can help people take advantage of technologies, understand the impact we have, but [00:11:30] also how we can help minimize those impacts. I love going to a meeting when, you know, when folks are asking tough questions, and I take a lot of pride with my colleagues that I think we've helped them understand enough about the resources to ask those tough questions. And they deserve good answers. And if we don't have them, then it's an organization like Sea Grant and others that can do the research so we can find out those answers, so we can help all of us move forward.

Speaker1: [00:11:53] Now, New York Sea Grant is actually hosting a local event talking [00:12:00] about healthy watersheds and resilient communities. Tell us about this event that's actually happening in the city of Dunkirk on November 2nd.

Speaker2: [00:12:12] Yeah, you know, exciting. My colleagues are going to spend a day talking with folks about, you know, and we can use all the buzzwords, coastal resiliency, all that. But it's really about how do we interact with our natural environment here in western New York. Really great that they're going to be in Dunkirk with our partners, with the Department of Environmental [00:12:30] Conservation, Department of State, local, city and county folks really talking about how we as users and landowners and planners and managers of this resource can work even better together to ensure an understanding flooding, you know, high water, low water drought. Floods. All of those issues that we talk about, you know, sometimes on a daily basis, they're extremely variable, as we know. So having a group together to talk about how do we better plan for it, how are we [00:13:00] better prepared for it, you know, because the better prepared we are, then we can go through these issues together, not in a crisis, but in a well-planned mode. So I think it's very exciting. And to have them coming to Dunkirk is one of the three places they've chosen, you know, to specifically talk about Dunkirk Harbour, Silver Creek, you know, Lake Ontario or Lake Erie, you know, all these great resources we have here. I think it's going to be very exciting. I really encourage people to think about taking advantage of the opportunity because again, it just adds into our understanding of [00:13:30] this very complex ecosystem, but also how we can be a part of helping carry it forward, better plan for it and manage for it.

Speaker1: [00:13:36] And Dave, they can go right to the New York Sea Grant website and get more information about this, this day-long workshop.

Speaker2: [00:13:48] They absolutely can. They can see all the sponsors, they can register for it, see what's going to be included. So take advantage of it. You know, I love that they're coming right here to the city of Dunkirk on the great shores of Lake Erie, you [00:14:00] know, being Chautauqua County with folks. So it's just really a great opportunity and I encourage folks to check it out.

Speaker1: [00:14:05] Well, as we start to wrap up today's Viewpoint interview, what what is next for you, Dave White?

Speaker2: [00:14:14] I'm not going to go far. I've got, you know, some family down in Florida. I'm going to go visit for the holidays, but I'm going to be back here in New York. I’m very fortunate we have a family place in the Finger Lakes. I grew up in the southern tier. I've spent 38 years working on the [00:14:30] Great Lakes and I'm going to put my footprints in the sand and, you know, my butt in the water, pardon the word, but I'm going to I'm going to enjoy these resources. I'm going to stay very connected to the people that I've worked with. I'm going to be there to help them as best I can because, you know, it's a part of who I am. And I look forward to, you know, being a volunteer and giving back and help and continue to move the program forward.

Speaker1: [00:14:53] That's great. That's great. As we wrap up, how can people get more information about [00:15:00] New York Sea Grant?

Speaker2: [00:15:02] They can go to the Web site nyseagrant.org, but also, you know, you know, use your favorite search engine and you know, just look for you know Lake Erie issues  Chautaqua Lake issues if you're going to go you know touring around you know check with friends and colleagues and just you know, my encouragement to people is get out and really enjoy the resources we have in New York, because, as I say, you will find no place better in the world. And I have visited 43 states, [00:15:30] 16 Caribbean islands, five different countries. I still haven't found anyplace better for the resources that we have in New York to go to.

Speaker1: [00:15:37] Well, we've enjoyed our conversations with you and in recent years, and and hopefully you're a visitor down here along Lake Erie.

Speaker2: [00:15:47] I certainly will be. I enjoy it. I pass through there often on my way to visit my children. So I am going to look forward to enjoying Lake Erie resources from a different perspective. And thank you for all you've done to help us get [00:16:00] the message out all these years to to share with folks the good news about what we have right here in western New York.

Speaker1: [00:16:05] Well, Dave White, thanks for joining us on Viewpoint.

Speaker2: [00:16:09] All right. You have a great day.

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/nycoastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly.

Home *  What is NYSG? *  Research *  Extension *  Education *  News & Events *  Publications
  Grants & Policies * Staff * NYSG Sites *  Related Sites 

nyseagrant@stonybrook.edu * (631) 632-6905

Problems viewing our Site? Questions About our Site's Social Media / Other Features? - See Our Web Guidelines

For NYSG Staff ... Site Administration