Let’s start the celebration. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed The National Sea Grant College and Program Act, establishing the Sea Grant Program. Today, the National Sea Grant College program is a network of 33 programs based at top universities in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Puerto Rico and Guam.

As the National Sea Grant College Program celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, it is important to take stock in what has been accomplished with this long-term partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the various states bordering significant water bodies around the country. Throughout the nation, these partnerships have yielded significant advances in knowledge, products and services that have helped coastal communities and constituents.

The Georgia Sea Grant College program is no exception. Through its partnerships with researchers at the University of Georgia and all other higher education institutions in Georgia, its engagement with coastal stakeholders and its emphasis on extension and education, Georgia Sea Grant has had profound impacts on the economic and ecological well-being of our coastal communities.

From transforming Georgia’s shrimping industry with the use of Turtle Exclusion Devices that reduce by-catch to working with local governments in coastal communities to respond to sea level rise and nuisance flooding, Georgia Sea Grant has continued to make a difference.

We have trained seafood business employees in proper seafood handling and storage and protected consumers in the process. We are educating youth and preparing a responsible and skilled workforce while also engaging new scholars and seasoned researchers to help coastal leaders and managers solve critical issues.

Perhaps most importantly, we engage with our constituents. We work with them to identify the critical issues, investigate whether existing resources or solutions exist within our higher education or national networks and sponsor research to develop new solutions.

In the 36 years since its inception, the Georgia Sea Grant College Program continues to make a difference in the lives of Georgians by serving the state of Georgia and the nation. Over the coming year, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Sea Grant program, we hope to look back at some of our significant accomplishments as well as look forward to those yet to come.