Entering the job stream with an aquatic sciences degree? Check out these programs to scale up your career!

Effective public engagement skills benefit science, society, and enhance aquatic sciences careers.

People are gathered around and looking into a container where baby sturgeon are being kept before being released into the river.
Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator Mary Bohling (left) uses a sturgeon release event as a way to promote community education in the restoration efforts. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

Many new science and fisheries graduates are encouraged to communicate about their research to diverse audiences but often have received little preparation in effective ways to provide science communications.

An article in a recent edition of Fisheries highlights two professional development programs designed to help students acquire skills and practice in effective outreach, communication, and public engagement.

The goals of the Michigan Sea Grant-MSU Extension Graduate Fellows Program and the Michigan Sea Grant

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A sturgeon release is used as an opportunity for community outreach and engagement in the restoration efforts. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

The goals of the Michigan Sea Grant-MSU Extension Graduate Fellows Program and the Michigan Sea Grant Community-Engaged Research Institute are to enhance future fisheries professionals’ skills necessary for integrating technical and scientific skills, along with effective public engagement skills. Together, these programs have the potential to yield a lifetime of career benefits, as well as benefits to science and society. The programs are a partnership among Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension; MSU Outreach and Engagement, and the MSU Graduate School

Despite varying in objectives, format, duration, and geographic scope served, community engagement competency areas informed the basis of each program. Skills developed during the programs include building community partnerships, working with diverse stakeholders, practicing effective communication, and learning facilitative leadership processes. For students interested in careers with Sea Grant, Extension, outreach, engagement, or generally interacting with the public, these are excellent training programs to build skills to complement scientific training.

Michigan Sea Grant helps to foster economic growth and protect Michigan’s coastal, Great Lakes resources through education, research and outreach. A collaborative effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University and its MSU Extension, Michigan Sea Grant is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 34 university-based programs.

This report was prepared by Michigan Sea Grant under award NA180AR4170102 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce through the Regents of the University of Michigan. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Commerce, or the Regents of the University of Michigan.

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