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The nation’s need for user-driven climate services is increasing and the federal government has recognized the importance of responding to this rising need. Decision-makers at all levels of government are considering options for how to best prepare their communities for the impacts of climate change. Educating the public about natural resource issues has been a core competency of the nation’s extension programs for more than 140 years. The extension model prides itself on being responsive to the needs of its clientele and it is difficult to imagine a scenario where extension does not play a leading role in addressing the national climate change education efforts at the grass roots level.

As the demand for climate change information increases in the years to come, it will be necessary in the near term to provide considerable subject-matter training and support to prepare existing extension staff to supply new and needed climate extension services. But this will not be enough. In the future, extension programs will need to recruit a cadre of specialists, including climatologists and those with related expertise, who have concomitant skills in extension programming. This extension capacity and the infrastructure that supports it is a national asset well suited to serve the needs of a National Climate Service.

Speaker Bio

Dr. Jim Murray joined NOAA’s National Sea Grant Office in March 1998 as the national director for Sea Grant’s Extension Program as well as the team leader for its outreach efforts that include communications and education. In 2006, he was named Deputy Director of the National Sea Grant College Program and in this role provides support on policy matters and in developing partnerships at the national level. Dr. Murray has devoted his career to Sea Grant having previously worked at four Sea Grant institutions. His 35 years of work experience include university positions at: New York Sea Grant as a graduate research trainee and research technician; Minnesota Sea Grant as its first Lake Superior extension agent; New Jersey Sea Grant as its first full-time extension director; and North Carolina Sea Grant as extension director. Throughout his Sea Grant career, Dr. Murray has remained active at the regional and national levels. Twice he was elected by his peers to serve as national chair of the Assembly of Sea Grant Extension Program Leaders (1984 and 1997). He was active in establishing the formal framework for the Assembly in 1993 and has served on its executive committee in several capacities. He was also elected chair of both the Southeast Sea Grant (1988) and Mid-Atlantic Sea Grant Networks (1986). Dr. Murray’s academic degrees and training have blended his interests in public policy, resource management and public education. His undergraduate degree is in economics from the Maxwell School of Public Affairs at Syracuse University. His Master’s degree is from the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry where he concentrated on resource and fishery management issues and his doctorate is from North Carolina State University where he combined his interests in fishery management and public education.

Funding provided by the Climate Program Office, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration to the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute.
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