On Air: Spotlight on Great Lakes Research Consortium's Small Grants
Great Lakes Boating & Marine Trades - News


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

Watertown, NY, September 13, 2022 - "I also serve as the Associate Director of the Research Consortium and we did, you know, going back to school, colleges are back," says Dave White, New York Sea Grant's Coastal Recreation and Tourism Specialist, during a recent segment on WTNY 790 AM Watertown. 

"And all the issues that we talk about, whether it be water quality, socioeconomics, harmful algal blooms, invasive species, you know, a lot of times what folks don't realize is there's a large cadre of researchers and students behind that at our great universities in upstate New York, so the Research Consortium was formed to bring them all together and to work with them and to have them work across campus, throughout New York and with our Canadian counterparts."

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


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Full Transcript: 

Speaker2: [00:00:50] We've got Dave White in the studio. Good morning from New York City, man.

Speaker1: [00:00:56] Great song choice. Just love the music you're picking. And now.

Speaker2: [00:00:59] Well, thank you. [00:01:00]

Speaker1: [00:01:00] Love with water.

Speaker2: [00:01:01] Yes, we are absolutely sad to see the weather sort of changing. Maybe not, you know, sharing our feelings.

Speaker1: [00:01:09] Yeah, but we, we need it. I mean, you can.

Speaker2: [00:01:10] Only we do.

Speaker1: [00:01:11] You know, we rely on I mean, my agriculture friends, they're so important. And, you know, we've got to keep everybody in mind when we think about it. Yeah, a boater might not like as much, but, you know, our friends in the ag industry look at it to say, would you like food on your table? We might need some rain. So, yes, we have to take what we get and we do need it.

Speaker2: [00:01:28] So had a great summer though. Beautiful [00:01:30] season this year, I feel like.

Speaker1: [00:01:32] Absolutely. Just a great summer. Yeah, it's been great to see people, you know, emerge from the pandemic and really start to get back into things. You know, the festivals are back. I mean, you know, we're now getting into the fall fest season.

Speaker2: [00:01:44] Yeah, my favorite.

Speaker1: [00:01:45] And you and I have talked many times before, you know, we're not off topic, but we don't they don't know what our topic is yet.

Speaker2: [00:01:51] So true.

Speaker1: [00:01:52] But you know, I mean and you know the we're a four season resort area I call it in upstate New York and you know fall [00:02:00] is one of the great ones. And you know, a lot of boaters now keep their boat in longer. They kayak and canoe into the fall. There is nothing I mean, like, you know, Columbus Day weekend out on the boat.

Speaker2: [00:02:09] Right.

Speaker1: [00:02:09] Rocking back to land with the color change. Right. It doesn't get any better than that. I mean, that's why we all love to live in upstate New York. So make sure you're thinking about that folks making make the boat trip plan, make the make the fall foliage to the Adirondacks and out on to the lake or river to look back.

Speaker2: [00:02:23] Well, and, you know, sometimes here in the north country, we get almost that, especially like this time of year. We get like that [00:02:30] false fall like that, that that fake fake you out like a fake you out spring we get too a lot but you know it cools down and so you're like oh right about this time of year you're like okay falls here and then it warms up again. Yes. So there's still there is still time for boating. Absolutely.

Speaker1: [00:02:46] I mean, I now talk about that the boating season is from Easter to Columbus Day. Right? You know, it really is because of our ability to use our boats and be out on them, especially when we do talk about kayaks, canoes and those kind of things that, you know, as it's getting [00:03:00] cooler, you're well prepared and safe. But yeah, you can get out there much easier and that kind of thing. So absolutely take advantage of it.

Speaker2: [00:03:05] And the water's like glass. Oh, I know. In this time of year you start getting into the cooler weather. It's like glass. It's beautiful. So soon we will be talking about obviously storing your boat and putting your water crafts away. But we're not there yet.

Speaker1: [00:03:17] Not there yet. No, no. We got time, folks. Got time.

Speaker2: [00:03:19] But something we are talking about, speaking of you know it is back to school time colleges have kind of started back up. You know, regular schooling has begun again, which is very nice to see, very refreshing [00:03:30] to see. The kids are going back. But we're talking about the the Great Lakes Research Consortium today.

Speaker1: [00:03:37] I also serve as the Associate Director of the Research Consortium and we did, you know, going back to school, colleges are back. And all the issues that we talk about, whether it be water quality, socioeconomics, harmful algal blooms, invasive species, you know, a lot of times what folks don't realize is there's a large cadre of researchers and students behind that at our great universities in upstate New York, so the Research Consortium [00:04:00] was formed to bring them all together and to work with them and to have them work across campus, throughout New York and with our Canadian counterparts.

Speaker2: [00:04:09] I saw that.

Speaker1: [00:04:10] Yeah, and it really provides, you know, we provide a small grants program and we're getting ready to roll that out and award those grants now. But it's really an opportunity for people to be thinking about when we are out enjoying it and we hear about these issues. There are our great faculty at our universities and new students that are coming in that are going to be the leaders in the Great Lakes of tomorrow that we really [00:04:30] like to partner with. And then, you know, what I get the opportunity to do is to spend time with you. And a lot of the issues you and I talk about, that's that's where we've gotten the answers.

Speaker2: [00:04:38] Oh.

Speaker1: [00:04:38] That's where that information is coming for us to learn about zebra mussels way back in the day.

Speaker2: [00:04:43] They're like the boots on the ground.

Speaker1: [00:04:44] They really are. They really are. And, you know, they're out there doing it. And, you know, one of the things I love when we fund these projects is they all include students. So it's really getting students engaged and understanding our waterways and upstate New York and specifically our Great Lakes. So, you know, they're the ones that are going to be out [00:05:00] on the boats, you know, doing that research and checking the seiche discs and all those kinds of things that they do that provide us with the opportunities that we have.

Speaker2: [00:05:08] Now is this something that is like part of a curriculum or is this like an extracurricular curricular activity that that students who are interested in, you know, marine life or ecology can can take part in?

Speaker1: [00:05:19] Well, I mean, you know really what occurs in this case is, you know, a lot of our faculty within our biologies and our chemistries and our human dimensions, you know, they're very focused on Great Lakes and the issues that are impacting [00:05:30] us on a daily basis. So, you know, when a student is looking to go to a college and that's an area they have an interest in, you know, that's going to help inspire them to go to a Clarkston, a Saint Lawrence, a Potsdam, a Canton. You know, those are the kind of things that will inspire them to do that. And then, you know, they do they then can really grow into some of these Great Lakes projects. They affiliate with the faculty that are there, and then they can really share that expertise. And what I love is when we work with the campuses and they're doing their their student presentations and students are talking about what [00:06:00] they're learning about the Great Lakes and the answers they're finding that will help us and it will help, you know, DEC or U.S. Fish and Wildlife, you know, manage the fishery better for all of us, both for the lake, the fishery and for those that want to catch them. So, you know, that's that's the inspirational part to me is in these small grants, help new faculty get excited about the Great Lakes and it also begins to help them think about how do I, you know, if we start getting some of these baseline issues looked at with a small grant, this is where they're going to be able to then go for those larger grants [00:06:30] to really delve into, you know, a better understanding of not only the problem, but the solutions that we may need to be imparting to get out there.

Speaker2: [00:06:37] Sure. Absolutely. Now, how long has this been this, this Research Consortium been around?

Speaker1: [00:06:42] They're pushing upwards of 30 years.

Speaker2: [00:06:44] Oh, wow.

Speaker1: [00:06:45] And again, you know, it's one of those things we thought, you know, because we are awarding the grants, it's something a lot of people wouldn't be aware of. But we thought, you know, this is a good time to do it because campuses are coming back and people are hearing about it. And also, I encourage a lot of people because we talk about and I've [00:07:00] worked for the university for a long time.

Speaker2: [00:07:03] We had a little discussion about that earlier. I'm not very happy right now.

Speaker1: [00:07:06] We did. And, you know, and it's really, you know, to see them evolve and to see them move forward, working with the students, working on those issues, it's just been fascinating to see in the Research Consortium really came along early on as to really connect all the campuses. I mean, that's really you know, when it says the Consortium, it's really, you know, is somebody at SUNY Oswego, SUNY ESF and Clarkson faculty [00:07:30] working on a similar issue, well, let's get them connected.

Speaker2: [00:07:33] Yes, like a hub.

Speaker1: [00:07:34] It really is. And so, you know, that's been a real key function of the Consortium, is to do that, inspire students, but really help build that collegiality across campus lines and across the state, because a lot of the issues that might be coming up on the Saint Lawrence have relevance, obviously, to Lake Ontario. So to connect those faculty as well through either conferences or workshops or just different meetings and we're going to be running actually in October, what we call our mentoring conference, which we do every two [00:08:00] years, which is for new faculty. So a new faculty member that may have just moved here from any one of the other states, you know, and one of the one of the sessions I teach at this mentoring conference kind of lead is what we call the alphabet soup of the Great Lakes. Oh, you know, I mean, I could sit here and go through all of the, you know, the Glenn PU,  EPA,  FWS DEC, AFSC.

Speaker2: [00:08:20] If it's only a three hour show, it's only a three hour show.

Speaker1: [00:08:23] And actually, I have a lot of fun with them because I just have the whole list there. And then we get to an end and I go, Well, we need to come up with another [00:08:30] acronym because we're missing two letters out of the alphabet and all of these acronyms. Oh, no, But it's fun and it's laughter. But again, if you're not from here, when someone says DEC, you go, I mean, we all know what it is because we work with them they're all a part of our you know.

Speaker2: [00:08:42] Right.

Speaker1: [00:08:42] Especially on the water. But if you're coming from someplace else to go, is that your DEC? Is that your DEP? Because they have different names in every state. Oh, okay. You know, in every state they, you know, they have a DNR and a DEP kind of thing. So, you know, it's fun, it's light. But if you're a new faculty member, you know, it takes time to learn all that, right? Like [00:09:00] with our mentoring.

Speaker2: [00:09:00] Sort of assimilate into it.

Speaker1: [00:09:02] You know, assimilate into it. And who are the funding sources here? I mean, we talk with them about the Research Consortium as an entity, but then also New York Sea Grant, you know, National Science Foundation, other grants that are available. So, you know, it's a real opportunity and a lot of folks may not be aware of it. But, you know, and it's also an opportunity to be watching what's going on on campus, because a lot of times they're doing public presentations on a lot of these issues as well. You know, you know, as part of their outreach program on a campus. So, you know, maybe JCC or Canton or up [00:09:30] at Clarkston might be doing a public presentation on you know Saint Lawrence River, you know, ecology and water.

Speaker2: [00:09:36] Right.

Speaker1: [00:09:37] Take advantage of those opportunities because those are the folks that are out there on the water doing the research.

Speaker2: [00:09:40] So now, you know, with with opportunities like this, you know, we we sort of I think I don't want to say I'm generalizing here, but we kind of take for granted the the the waterways that we do have here and just the beauty and the uniqueness of it, the availability of it and the accessibility of it. How important [00:10:00] is it for these researchers and these biologists to be out there doing this research for us to understand better these waterways?

Speaker1: [00:10:08] It's critical because then we can understand we better understand the interactions between native species and invasive species. We better understand our water quality issues because a lot of folks draw their water from these bodies of water. So understanding water quality, understanding harmful algal blooms and an algal bloom, you know, which is different. I mean, not all algal blooms are harmful. What makes them harmful? [00:10:30] What do we need to be cautious about? I mean that's always a hot topic this time of year. Looking at the to me a big part of it a lot of folks don't really is looking at the socioeconomics. I mean, you know, I remember there was a facility that was being built in Port Ontario at the mouth of the Salmon River. And when he built that facility, he actually credited New York Sea Grant research that was done out of Cornell University of showing him the economic opportunity that was there.

Speaker2: [00:10:54] Oh, nice.

Speaker1: [00:10:55] Because, you know, you're doing as a business person on the coast, you know, back in the day, you'd be doing that on your own and really trying [00:11:00] to determine, you know, am I going to get a return on my investment? Is the demand there? And so by looking at boating charter boats, I mean, you know, we've done a tremendous amount of work with the charter boat industry over the years to understand their technology, to better understand their economic sustainability. So, you know, and that's what a lot of folks don't realize that, you know, again, those businesses are very niche businesses. I mean, right now we're working with the National Marine Sanctuary and it's potential designation. We've done a lot of research and support looking at the diving industry, know if you build it, will they [00:11:30] come, Right.

Speaker2: [00:11:30] Right.

Speaker1: [00:11:31] And that's what we talk about. Yeah, divers will come, but it's important to provide it for non divers as well as divers.

Speaker2: [00:11:36] Right.

Speaker1: [00:11:37] You know, and that's where communities will look at to say, well, yes, we need to make some investments in our infrastructure or in our community business structure because the opportunity is there.

Speaker2: [00:11:46] Well, you know, and even for like the average John or Jane that are maybe throwing your boat in the lake or the river, this you know, over the weekend, it's still good to know. It's to have that little bit of education to for preservation purposes or if you're building a home maybe on [00:12:00] the water just to just kind of know the the ecology around that and you know, the biology around that to keep preservation going.

Speaker1: [00:12:07] You know, I think back to when they started the, you know, Lake Ontario water level study and we could spend way too many hours talking about that. As we all know.

Speaker2: [00:12:15] It's as if they're right at it again.

Speaker1: [00:12:16] To me the real key back then in between 2000 and 2005, when they were doing the predominant research and really, really gaining information is the public was really engaged for the Public Interest Advisory Group or whatever they may have called them at the time to [00:12:30] really learn about it. And that's where people learned, you know, that it's not a bathtub, it's not a singular system, it's very multifaceted, and to then share that information with people. So all of a sudden, as a landowner, you understood, okay, why is it high? Why is it low? How does this really work? Right? Because it's not just pull the plug, let the water out, stop the plug in the water. You know, it's a very complex system. And that's one thing that I've watched over the years that people have really embraced in wanting to learn about it. I remember, you know, working with the fishery that early, early on when [00:13:00] folks should be going to a meeting, they would really start to ask the agency folks some critical questions. And I remember sitting around the table afterwards with a lot of our agency partners going, how do they know to ask these questions? Right. I mean, and I'm not belittling anybody. Right. They were very technical. And I said, because we've been sharing information with them and they really are understanding it.

Speaker1: [00:13:17] So they're asking very specific on, you know, what is the weight of the forage base of Lake Ontario. And, you know, I mean, these are very critical questions because they were learning this is a part of that process and that's that research and getting it out there and [00:13:30] not only letting people understand the results. I mean, it'd be easy for me to say this is a result of that research, you know, Do I believe it or not, How did they get there? Right. And watching people really learn about the process to do that to me is as critical as the result. Because if you understand the process and accept that process, it's like, okay, and this is the result they got, it validates it. So it's not just somebody saying, here's the answer to the question, here's how I got the answer to the question right. And that's what I love when students are engaged in that, because to me, that's a huge part of their learning. It's not just here's the question, here's the answer. [00:14:00] That process between the two is critical to make sure that that's validated and done correctly. And that's one of the things for years, the Consortium is really trying to work with faculty to do so.

Speaker2: [00:14:09] Speaking of more information, where can people find out more information about this Great Lakes Research Consortium?

Speaker1: [00:14:14] Use your favorite search engine and type it in. Don't type GLRC because as we were talking, there's at least seven things that are the GLRC Great Lakes Radio Consortium. Yeah, we were going to get a whole bunch of stuff.

Speaker1: [00:14:25] But if you type Great Lakes Research Consortium or go to ESF.edu/GLRC, [00:14:30] they can learn about it. But also, you know, as important, check your local university, you know, do do a search on your local university. Check out what they've got going on because a lot of times they've got just some great research and a lot of times they may be involving local folks in it as well as volunteers. So there may be some really cool volunteer opportunities to be working with the folks up here at Clarkston, St Lawrence, Canton, Potsdam JCC, to really work on some of these issues and really learn the behind the scenes.

Speaker2: [00:14:57] And now you guys have a small grants program as well that people can [00:15:00] kind of find more information about information about online as well.

Speaker1: [00:15:04] Yes, they can. And we are about to announce who's getting this year's funds.

Speaker2: [00:15:08] Very exciting. All right. Well, thanks so much for coming in, David. It's always a pleasure to speak to you. Wonderful. I love learning more about our waterways here. So great day again, Dave White with the New York Sea Grant this morning. It's 753, 64 degrees. You're. Listening to 790 9 a.m. 95.9 FM Watertown.

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.

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