Canon Purdy: Sharing Skills Bettered My Fellowship Experience

Fellow Name: Canon Purdy
Fellow Type: California Sea Grant State Fellow
Year(s) of Fellowship: 2016
Host Agency: California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW)

You've probably heard it before: government decisions take a long time. And to a certain extent, it's true. One of the challenges facing California Sea Grant State Fellows is figuring out how accomplish goals in one year within a system where every project is across multiple years.

One way is to take full advantage of the learning and professional development opportunities available to us. Some of us in the past 6 months have attended conferences outside of our current duties in order to expand our understanding of marine policy; others have attended training within their agencies to better development their interpersonal skills. And don’t forget, in a group of 21 talented and diverse individuals, there is also plenty to learn from each other.

California Sea Grant Fellows share knowledgeFor me personally, I've had 2 different careers before transitioning to marine conservation, and was delighted to both share my own skills in graphic design and education, and also learn from everyone else. In order to capture this wealth of skill between us, I organized a spreadsheet to see what we could share, and what we were interested in learning. Thus, the 2016 Sea Grant fellows have come together and organized a knowledge share workshop to share our own skills and experiences, both from our professional pasts and current departments. We gathered a list featuring diverse topics such as CEQA review, GIS, journalism, and even kelp pressing techniques.

Our first meeting was to discuss communications strategies, both across social media and more traditional journalism media. Four fellows led the discussion hosted at Cal EPA's office, and 10 other fellows participated, in person and over the phone. We had a lively and interesting discussion about the merits of social media, ways we as scientists can communicate better with broad audiences, as well as some great tips on the meanings behind journalism shorthand – did you know 'graf' means paragraph?

State Fellows visit the Hog Island Oyster company

Our next meeting is scheduled to explore uses of and techniques for working with GIS. Spatial data is becoming more and more important in policy and management, and it will be a great opportunity to expand our skill set to better understand this highly complicated and useful tool.

For future fellows, it's extremely important to take full advantage of this great network of professionals, both current and past. Several other fellows have organized other training events, including a State Fellow alumni career workshop. We have so much to offer each other, both professionally and socially, and my connection with the fellows has certainly enriched and bettered my experience on this fellowship.

Written by Canon Purdy

Follow @sumocher on Twitter