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Sixth Kachemak Bay Science Conference Highlights Connection Between Health of Bay and Health of Community

“Healthy Bay = Vibrant Communities” is the theme of the 6th Kachemak Bay Science Conference to be held on March 8 through the 10th at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. This free gathering of scientists, teachers, students, and Kachemak Bay community residents will focus on efforts to observe, manage, and sustain the Kachemak Bay ecosystem – an ecosystem that supports local residents, visitors, and even people that have never set foot on the Kenai Peninsula.

Science communication trainer and author, Nancy Baron, will provide Thursday evening’s keynote talk, “Being an Agent of Change: Are the Risks Worth the Rewards?” A zoologist and science writer, Nancy is the Ocean Science Outreach Director for Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea (COMPASS). She is also the lead communications trainer for the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program. In these capacities, she works with environmental scientists helping them translate their work effectively to journalists, the public and policy makers. Nancy holds communications training workshops around the world for academic scientists, graduate students and post docs as well as government and NGO scientists. In August 2010 Nancy completed a communications guidebook for scientists titled Escape from the Ivory Tower: A Guide to Making Your Science Matter (published by Island Press). This book summarizes her ten years of experience working as a personal coach and trainer for many well-known environmental scientists.

The Friday keynote presentation, “Human-Ocean Ecosystems: Balancing the Needs of People and Nature,” will be co-delivered by Anne Salomon and Nick Tanape. Anne, Simon Fraser Professor, and Nick, resident of Nanwalek, are co-authors of “Imam Cimiucia: Our Changing Sea,” and will focus their talk on the pressing need to advance our understanding of how humans alter, benefit from and adapt to the changing biodiversity and resilience of coastal ocean ecosystems. This requires an intergration of knowledge systems across space and time. As evidence, Anne will draw on key features and commonalities from three case studies: shellfish declines on the Kenai peninsula, Pacific herring fluctuations along British Columbia`s Central Coast, and ancient clam gardens in the Pacific Northwest.

Prior to both Thursday and Friday’s keynote addresses, there will be a reception and book signing opportunity with the evening’s respective author/speaker. Friday evening’s reception also includes an opportunity to view scientific posters by local scientists based at the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve, Kasitsna Bay Laboratory, the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, and Cook Inletkeeper as well as scientists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, NOAA, and the Alaska Sea Life Center.

The first conference session, “Observing the Kachemak Bay Ecosystem,” will begin Friday afternoon. It will focus on recent research of local marine and terrestrial land dynamics, water quality, plants, and animals. Updates on local otters, movement and diets of the giant pacific octopus, observed abnormalities in wood frogs, and mushy halibut will also be covered.

On Saturday morning, the second session, “Managing the Kachemak Bay Ecosystem,” will highlight specific efforts to utilize and apply direct scientific observations and data visualizations to manage our resources. Presentations range from updates on the area’s Tanner crab fishery status to new visualizations of Alaska’s coastline.

Saturday’s afternoon session, “Sustaining the Kachemak Bay Ecosystem,” will present a series of talks that highlight the direct link between human and environmental health. This session will also provide an opportunity to learn about existing partnership efforts to collectively address priority habitat and health issues, thus increasing our ability to conserve and manage our resources and to proactively improve our communities’ health.

Additional conference events include a science communication workshop, “Making Your Science Matter,” Thursday afternoon by Nancy Baron, and a scientist and teacher workshop, “Communicating Ocean Science,” Friday morning led by Marilyn Sigman. One professional development credit will be available for educators through the Kachemak Bay Campus of the Kenai Peninsula College for workshop and conference participation.

The conference is being organized by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, Kenai Peninsula College/Kachemak Bay Campus, Kachemak Bay Research Reserve, and NOAA-Kasitsna Bay Lab. Financial support for the conference comes from the North Pacific Research Board, ExxonMobil, Cook Inlet RCAC, Seldovia Village Tribe, Wells Fargo, and the Alaska Ocean Observing System. More information and registration information is available at www.kbayscience.org.

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