As marine program coordinator for the Northwest Straits Commission, Ginny Broadhurst is pursuing her dream. “I’ve always wanted to work with people, policies, and science to do a better job of protecting the marine environment,” she says.
The Commission manages the projects of the Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative, a federally-funded program dedicated to protecting and restoring the marine resources of the state of Washington’s Northwest Straits, which includes the waters and shorelines of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Strait of Georgia, and the northern Puget Sound.
Broadhurst’s job is divided into two primary areas. Half of her time is spent providing support and serving as a resource for the Commission and seven marine resources committees (MRCs), county-based grassroots groups that work to protect and restore the Straits' vital marine resources and habitats. MRCs focus on implementing important restoration projects and education programs at the local level; the Commission provides general oversight.
"I’ve always wanted to work with people, policies, and science to do a better job of protecting the marine environment"
In this capacity, Broadhurst helps to develop training and educational workshops; evaluates and prepares grant applications; and makes presentations on the work of the Initiative. Recently she prepared an extensive five-year program summary that was submitted to an evaluation panel, which unanimously recommended that Congress reauthorize and expand support for the Initiative.
Broadhurst’s second area of focus is the management of a Marine Protected Areas (MPA) project. The purpose of the project is to identify and evaluate all existing MPAs in the Northwest Straits area. “Our project looks at the effectiveness of the existing MPAs,” she explains. “We’re looking for ways to make them more meaningful.”
For example, the study showed that not all MPA site managers think of their sites as MPAs. “Some MPA managers might be more focused on the terrestrial or recreational values of the site,” Broadhurst continues. “We’re working with them to develop a more holistic management approach.”
As project coordinator for the MPA project, Broadhurst spends her time developing workshops and other tools to help MPA managers leverage resources and best practices.
Broadhurst has a bachelor’s degree in environmental conservation and a master’s degree in marine affairs. “Having a science background is important in this position,” she explains. “It’s helpful because I often work with people who have strong passion and commitment for marine conservation, but not necessarily the scientific training and background.”
"I went from shoreline management issues into the nearshore and now I’m getting into deeper water, such looking at how we manage the marine waters and helping to guide restoration projects"
Since she earned her master’s degree, Broadhurst’s career path has evolved to be more related to marine environment. “I went from shoreline management issues into the nearshore and now I’m getting into deeper water, such looking at how we manage the marine waters and helping to guide restoration projects,” she says.
Broadhurst also places a high value on writing and people skills. “It’s very important for me to be able to gather information and summarize it accurately and articulately,” she adds. “And so much of what we all do comes down to building relationships with people and knowing how to work with them.”
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