On Air: NYSG's Dave White Retires After 38 years of Educating the Public on NY’s Waterways
Great Lakes Boating & Marine Trades - News


Dave White, New York Sea Grant, Recreation and Tourism Specialist, P: 315-312- 3042, E: dgw9@cornell.edu

Syracuse, NY, October 14, 2022 - The waterways of Central New York may be cooling down but there is still plenty of activity on them and all year round.

Dave White of New York Sea Grant is retiring after 38 years of educating the public on New York’s waterways.

This information was shared during a 10+ minute long segment that aired on several 93Q programs, including Street Talk and Ted and Amy in the Morning. 93Q broadcasts on WNTQ-FM in the greater Syracuse region.

You can listen to White's full conversation on 93Q, which starts just after 9 mins 30 seconds 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.

Full Transcript: 

Speaker1: [00:00:04] Welcome to Street Talk, A public affairs presentation of Cumulus Media aired on our Cumulus stations in Syracuse. Street Talk is a weekly show keeping you in touch with the individuals and organizations that work for and serve our community where your hosts Ted and Amy. 

Speaker1: [00:09:30] Well, the waterways of central New York may be cooling down, but there's still plenty of activity on them, and all year round. Dave White of the New York Sea Grant is retiring after 38 years of educating the public on New York's waterways.

Speaker3: [00:09:48] Kind of bittersweet. What are we going to do without you around here?

Speaker4: [00:09:51] What am I going to do without you? I mean, this this has been you know, it's been a great opportunity. I mean, it's been a great run. So, yeah, as I've told people, you know, I'll have two tears [00:10:00] in my eyes, one of sadness and one of joy. I mean, it's been a great career, great fun and great people.

Speaker3: [00:10:05] I was thinking about you when it comes to filling your position because I feel like you have been on the waterways since you were tiny. And so it's not just being educated is being educated because that's been your life for so long.

Speaker4: [00:10:21] You know, it has. And you know, people go, you know, your love of boating. I grew up boating and I became a certified boat safety instructor in 1979. So, you know, when boating [00:10:30] issues really came to the forefront and we did some research, which is the basis of our organization that really talked about the needs of boaters to understand better environmental, better safety. I'd been teaching it for years as a volunteer instructor, and so it just became natural. And then, you know, working with great folks in the Coast Guard Auxiliary Power Squadron, Jean Little and, you know, all the times you and I have been together on the radio and at the fair and, you know, those kind of things, it's just been a great opportunity. So, yeah, I've, you know, grew up around the water, have a great respect for [00:11:00] it from a safety standpoint, but also a great respect for it from a conservation ethic that we really have to be thinking about. And that to me is probably the biggest change I've seen in four decades, is I think we all have that ethic.

Speaker3: [00:11:12] I mean, I was going to ask you that the changes, because I feel like you mentioned safety. You know, back in the day it was kind of like you get behind the wheel of a boat and you could pretty much do what you wanted to do. I feel like safety has definitely improved for the good, you know, since you.

Speaker4: [00:11:28] It has because boating has changed [00:11:30] so much. I mean, I love when I do presentations about it and I get my, you know, my ski belt out that we used to ski with. And people go, what is that? And I go, This is what we used to wear to ski. And they go, What? You know? But it evolved. I mean, I grew up on a, you know, 12 foot, you know, 25 horsepower engine boat. And now, you know, we're on, you know, three person jet skis that can go 60 miles an hour. Great, great fun, great opportunity. I mean, so we have to be thinking about as we get all these new technologies, how how do we help ourselves have fun without even thinking about it from [00:12:00] a safety standpoint, making sure everybody's safe and secure. And that, to me, is always the best part of when you're out on the water, whether you're swimming, you're worrying about riptides, you're boating, whatever it might be. You're not thinking about it because it's just natural. And if you're not thinking about it, then it's not it's not like, oh, I got to think about safety. You shouldn't have to think about safety. To me, it should just be a part of it. And, you know, with, you know, folks that live, work and play along the lake, I think that, again, is a big change is more and more people, they don't have to think about what they're doing because it's just part of what we do now, if we're going to help [00:12:30] conserve the environment, you know, we want to make sure we do the right thing with our shoreline. If we're a shoreline property owner, that to me is the biggest change in four decades is what we think about that. We don't have to anymore. It's just part of who we are.

Speaker3: [00:12:42] Does it scare you, though, just with the changes you've seen, just with the waterways? And let's say I mean, we had a camp on Lake Ontario for many years and just the shoreline has changed so much. You know, we ended up selling it because of the erosion. Right. I mean, so that seems like there's [00:13:00] there's some great ways to embrace the environment, but there's changes that you really can't ignore.

Speaker4: [00:13:05] There's changes that you can’t ignore, and we always have to be thinking about what's next and how we plan and prepare for it. And yes, all the changes we've seen, you have to remember, the shore of Lake Ontario used to be in Rome, New York. So it receded, so is it coming back? Right. Right. I mean, so, you know, as they always say, you know, what is your context of change? You know, an opportunity for that and in some [00:13:30] cases, you know, you can't fight Mother Nature. She is going to win. It's just how can you extend that time period if it is or be thinking about how do you have to change to conform to that? Because, you know, we have built in areas that, you know, were all legal and we all did the right thing. I mean, you know, camp family camp in the Finger Lakes. So, you know, I'm not besmirching anybody. What we all did was legal and normal at the time, but many of us weren't thinking ahead 40 or 50 years as to, well, what will it look like then? I think more and more people, that's what they're thinking now. [00:14:00] And my good colleagues that do erosion work or community planning work in secret, that's what they're helping communities think about, is we need to be thinking about what's next, because today's easy.

Speaker4: [00:14:09] You look out, oh, that's the water level, that's what I'm going to do. But what might it be? And I should remind people, it's been high and it's been low. And I just showed a colleague of mine yesterday, you know, the flooding of 1993 pictures, and he went 93. I thought it was like 17 and 20 and 19. I go, well, in your lifetime, that's what you see. But in my lifetime, it's every ten years kind of thing. And so here's the 93 [00:14:30] pictures when, you know, the rates landing in Oswego was completely underwater. And people forget that because their time frame is when have I been around it? So it's those kind of things. So, you know, I'm going through a lot of the history records and I'm loving that the colleagues that I work with want to have that information because they said we have to learn from that history because that's going to help us better plan, prepare and continue to use because I am I am one. We need to continue to use it and we're going to continue to live along the shore. We're going to continue to boat do all these great, wonderful things. So how do we just do it? Thinking differently? [00:15:00] And I think people are in large regard thinking differently about those things.

Speaker3: [00:15:05] You mentioned technology and I mean, obviously that has changed so much, even from what I've talked to you, that things that are possible now, not even technology, but like your blow up kayaks, inflatable kayaks that feel like they're real boats, I mean, just amazing advances with so many different things like that.

Speaker4: [00:15:23] It is, and that's what has always excited me. And, you know, and being with you,  and when we talk about these things, because that just gives [00:15:30] more people the opportunity, you know, and that's the one thing is everybody has an opportunity to enjoy these resources. And I have found it fascinating that one of the first things people have said when I announced several months ago I was going to retire and they go, Oh, where are you moving to? I've been fascinated by that and I've looked at them going, What? And they go, Oh, when I retire, I'm going to move to X, and I go, Have you ever visited there? Well, I hear it's a great place and I just look at them and go, I'm not going to move anyplace. Because, you know, right here in the studio with you today, I can leave and [00:16:00] I can go to some of the best fresh water, boating and fishing and landscapes in the Finger Lakes area. I can go up to the canal and go anywhere navigable in the world. I can go up to Lake Ontario and enjoy all of the things a Great Lake provides, and I can go to the Adirondacks and go to the one of the highest peaks in the United States, pick a state and tell me where I can have all that in a two hour drive and I'll move tomorrow.

Speaker4: [00:16:24] No one can. And that's what people forget because we just take it for granted because it's here. And I [00:16:30] love as I've seen during this time, people have turned their front door to our waters. It used to be our back door. What are we going to throw in it? What are we going to do with it? Now, again, over the last four decades, I watch people turn. It's our front door and we're taking a lot more care of our front lawn than we used to our back lawn. And that to me has been exciting to be a part of and I continue to see that go, and as new technologies come, it opens that front door to more and more people, which is what we should be all about because we have some of the best freshwater, natural [00:17:00] terrestrial aquatic resources in the world right here and I always remind people of that and they go, oh, yeah, I guess you're right, because just we just take it for granted.

Speaker3: [00:17:10] Well, and I think water or lack of has made such a major impact in this well, not this area, but this country for the last couple of years. I mean, you look out west, you know, when we are discussing what's going to happen later, it's like we got to go somewhere. Should we move part [00:17:30] time is where there's water? Like, why would you not want to be where there's water or that you I'm not sure in the future it's going to be there? Right.

Speaker4: [00:17:38] You know, and I've been blessed in my career, in personal life that I in my career I have visited 43 states, 16 Caribbean islands, two Hawaiian islands and two small islands. And I remember when my wife and I were in Colorado and we were there for two weeks, I was there for a conference she flew out and we were then touring around and we went to the highest island or high, [00:18:00] highest lake in Colorado. And we were sitting there and I went, that's it, and she goes, what? And I go, There's been something weird about this vacation. We're like four or five days into it. I said, I couldn't figure out what it was when I think it was Grand Lake was the name. We were sitting there and then we went out on a boat ride and I said, this is the first vacation that we had ever taken in our lives that was not revolved around water. Always gone to the beach, always gone boating, gone to the ocean, gone to lakes. So I mean, loved it. Have been back three times. But as I sat there, I went, That's that's been different for me because it wasn't [00:18:30] water based. And I mean, again, those are the things that you just strike you. I mean, to this day, I remember saying that, like, I am so attuned to the water because professionally, obviously, but personally I love it as well. So, yeah, it is all of those things that come into play.

Speaker3: [00:18:43] Now, what do you think you're going to miss the most regarding talking about or seeing or being part of?

Speaker4: [00:18:51] You, I mean, and I know you like to, I realize I'm going through 38 years of stuff and, you know, you can get emotional when you start to go through that. And as I've [00:19:00] now started to say to people, you know, they said, what were you successful at? And I said, I was successful at nothing because everything I've done I did with some of the greatest people in central New York. I mean, I can, you know, do all they want. I've said I was a mouthpiece, I was a face, I was in front of a room and I was behind the scenes with all those other great people, you know, and people you and I have talked about things that we've done. But, you know, I could do all I want to talk about these great resources, but if it wasn't for you helping me get that word out and having fun with it, [00:19:30] because I mean, we've also talked about a lot of serious issues. And, you know, you can talk about them with levity to help through it. But I think that also helps people understand it because we don't we don't need to take people further down.

Speaker4: [00:19:43] You know, we can help lift them up. And so I say that in all sincerity, that's what I'm going to miss the most. But that's what's made me successful if I have been, is you and the folks over at Bridge Street, in the folks over at TV3 and others here in Central New York. But [00:20:00] I do this across the area, you know, and it's those people that have helped me get the word out. It's the Jean Littles from the Coast Guard Auxiliary that I know you've talked to before. You know, those kind of folks that have helped me because I couldn't do it alone. And I'm realizing that now it's not me. It's it's truly a we. And I'm telling all of my colleagues and I can't wait to tell the person who does they bring in to take over, if you will, build on that because that's what makes you successful is all those great people, because they bring things [00:20:30] to the table that I certainly couldn't bring, but I can help them.

Speaker3: [00:20:32] We’re going to miss you immensely. I don't know if you can be replaced. I'm not sure I'm not. I might dabble. I'm not sure. But it's been great to work with you. You know, you're one of my favorites. And, I think you I think you said it perfectly because you bring us so much information, and yet it's entertaining to listen to. And that's what it's all about. So that people are not feeling like, you know, they're being schooled. It's more like, hey, how about that? I learned about that this morning.

Speaker4: [00:20:58] I learned early in my teaching career, [00:21:00] which I did before I came to work at Cornell, is, you know, people argue with me, but it's 90% entertainment and 10% education. And if you can get that 10% of them because of the 90%, you've won the day, because we can I mean, I can I can depress the best of them. I mean, I don't have to worry about that because it's just easy to do. But, you know, uplifting them to really think about, okay, what's next? How do we go forward? So it's been a great ride for me and I'm looking forward to putting some footprints in the sand, as they say, as as we go next. And I'll [00:21:30] still be around because I'm not leaving New York. So you never know where I'll pop up again.

Speaker3: [00:21:33] See, on the central New York Waterway.

Speaker4: [00:21:35] You absolutely will.

Speaker1: [00:21:36] See more at nyseagrant.org. Well, that's it for this week's edition of Street Talk. If you have an issue to discuss or an event or non-profit organization to promote or to find out more information about something you've heard on this or past week's programs, call us at area code 315 472-0200 or email AmyRobbins@Cumulus.com for events [00:22:00] allow two weeks in advance. Street Talk has been a public affairs presentation of Cumulus Media we’re Ted and Amy thanks for joining us each week here on street talk.

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.


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