By Marie Zhuikov
Erika Washburn, new director of the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR), moved from Michigan to Wisconsin six months ago to take the position. Sea Grant staff members in our Superior Office share space and some programming with Erika and the NERR staff. I sat down with her recently to get her “take” on her new job.
What interested you in the LS NERR director position?
I’ve had interactions with the NERR system for years, going back to my Ph.D. work. I always admired what they could do. The reserves are well-respected across the coastal management community nationwide. That it’s place-based means a lot to me; you can make the most difference in terms of engaging the public and community, building partnerships and collaborations, and dive deep into understanding a place.
What is a NERR, anyway?
We’re part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. We concentrate on the place where large rivers meet the ocean or large bodies of water like the Great Lakes. Our research, education and stewardship missions are focused within the St. Louis River estuarine system, which we think of on a watershed scale. Part of the St. Louis River watershed is in Minnesota and part of it’s in Wisconsin. We also think about where human communities move across that space. It’s great to be part of a big system. It’s kind of like being a state in relationship to the federal government. We can try out new things here. If we come up with innovative approaches to research, education or stewardship, the other reserves can benefit from learning what we do. We can transfer a lot of our innovations and strategies across the country that way.Read More...