This is a post by Lew Gorman, a partnerships coordinator from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on temporary assignment to NOAA.
I may be new to NOAA, but the concept of bringing people and organizations together to get things done is nothing new to me. That is exactly what I’m trying to do during my stint with the Damage Assessment, Remediation and Restoration Program (DARRP), NOAA’s multi-office program responsible for restoring lands and waters after oil and chemical spills.
Which is how I ended up at the zoo.
Zoos and aquariums frequently work with volunteers and maintain a large membership base that likes animals, fish, and nature, an ideal crossover for NOAA’s community-based restoration activities. Finding win-win situations helps build partnerships and leverage resources.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) [leaves this blog] provided a terrific nexus for this idea. In the U.S. alone, AZA has 214 accredited zoos and aquariums spread across 46 states. To accomplish their educational and conservation priorities, AZA institutions cultivate and support cadres of volunteers and members seeking to support conservation initiatives globally and locally.
I recently had the opportunity to connect with AZA volunteers, members, and staff at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums annual conference in Atlanta, Ga. While there, I was able to promote service project opportunities from DARRP’s habitat restoration program as well as environmental education messages from NOAA’s Marine Debris Program [leaves this blog].
I tried to keep the message simple: NOAA has programs where their membership can participate directly, performing conservation service while connecting with nature and helping NOAA bring degraded habitat back to health. Their participation could make an even greater impact on habitat restoration.
I was energized by the positive feedback and enthusiasm of everyone I met, including the appreciative river otters I saw on the conference field trip to the zoo.
You can learn more about how NOAA protects and restores damaged habitats at the DARRP website: http://www.darrp.noaa.gov/ [leaves this blog].
Lew Gorman is detailed to the NOAA Office of Response and Restoration’s Assessment and Restoration Division from his Partnership Coordinator position with the USFWS Endangered Species Program.