The Role of Extension Educators in Enabling Healthy Ecosystems

The Role of Extension Educators in Enabling Healthy Ecosystems

Heather Triezenberg 

Achievement of healthy ecosystems and sustainable fisheries management will likely require governance strategies that address local and global population growth and resource dependencies, and drivers and consequences of changing ecology, and that occur over multiple governmental jurisdictions. These complex conditions with high levels of uncertainty, likely to be accompanied by diverse stakeholder values, will likely require trusted professionals who engage stakeholders to create new policy alternatives to achieve healthy ecosystems. Extension Educators – professionals with university-based outreach programs in Michigan, Great Lakes Region, USA – are trained to work with community planners to enhance their capabilities, economy, and ecosystem. They do this by engaging with stakeholders in local communities, who oftentimes have differing perspectives on topics that have high levels of uncertainty (ecological or policy), such as the case of changing ecosystems and fisheries as a result of aquatic invasive species. Trusted by stakeholders, scientists, and decision-makers, Sea Grant Extension Educators are skilled at designing programs to communicate science, conduct inquiry on stakeholder needs and interests, and facilitate planning and policy processes that expand the understanding of issues and relevant science and expand the scope of policy alternatives so enduring solutions can be developed and implemented. These professionals can help make the resources, knowledge, diverse perspectives, and policy options visible. The role of Extension Educators in inland fisheries management may be necessary to achieve healthy ecosystems in the Great Lakes Region, USA, and around the world because inland fisheries will increasingly supply food sources for the world.

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