Marine Extension Associate Keri Kaczor participates in the New England Sustainability Consortium's Safe Beaches and Shellfish Project (NEST), working with a team of researchers across Maine and New Hampshire colleges and universities.
As coordinator of the Maine Healthy Beaches Program, Kaczor has been a leader in engaging beach managers and volunteers in efforts to identify and clean up sources of pollution affecting beaches and shellfish beds. The NEST project has provided additional research expertise to address some of the tougher questions. Researchers on NEST have been providing new scientific information, analysis of water quality data, and support in key decision-making and conversations with town leaders.
Kaczor says that the collaboration with NEST has been meaningful. "It's so great to see researchers interested," Kaczor said. "What's also been really remarkable to me is some of the researchers' willingness to really get kind of down and dirty with this work. This whole focus on engagement and stakeholders has been really tremendous because they're considering all sides, and there's a lot of sides to these issues that plague beaches and shellfish growing areas, so I really appreciate that sort of 360 approach to this program." Importantly, Kaczor explained that the collaboration between NEST and Maine Healthy Beaches would not be possible without the efforts of a statewide team of citizen volunteers that regularly carry out extensive sampling efforts across all of the state's beaches.