The Gulf of Mexico Climate and Resilience Community of Practice selected Libby Carnahan, extension agent with Florida Sea Grant, and Renee Collini, coordinator for the Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative, as recipients of the 2017 Spirit of Community Award in the individual category.
Each year the Climate and Resilience Community of Practice, an organization of more than 300 people who work to advance the study of climate science and the ways cities can adapt to these challenges, honors an individual who has done an exemplary job of communicating climate challenges to the communities they serve.
Members of the organization nominate other members of the group for the award. Each member is invited to vote for one nominee to determine the award winner. This year, in what is a first since the organization began the Spirit of Community Awards in 2012, the vote was tied and resulted in two co-winners.
Carnahan and Collini have made significant strides in advancing scientific knowledge within their respective regions and helping communities use that science to improve to improve local coordination and planning.
Collini has the pivotal role of filling the gaps in sea-level rise science and management needs. The role of the sentinel site cooperatives is to leverage partnerships and capabilities around sea-level rise science. As a coordinator, she has used her skills to engage with over 25 state and federal agencies, universities and NGOs to provide useful, tangible products. Some of these products include the Tools Bulletin, the Climate Tool Decision Tree and “Keeping Pace: A Short Guide to Navigating Sea-Level Rise Models.” These tools helped further coordination across the region and made communities aware of resources available for applying scientific understanding to regional problem solving.
Collini is a member of the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium Outreach Team, and her office is located at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama.
Carnahan, who serves Pinellas County in her extension work, is an adept communicator and technical assistance provider. Over the course of several years, she has worked with the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council to convene the Tampa Bay Climate Science Advisory Panel, and local governments and regional agencies are applying the panel’s recommendations to decisions about responding to climate change and sea-level rise.
Carnahan also provides extensive one-on-one assistance for local governments. She assisted the city of Treasure Island when they were pursuing funding for adaptation work. She also has been quick to share her work and findings with multiple professional organizations by attending Sea Grant meetings, American Planning Association meetings and university conferences.
The members of the Gulf of Mexico Climate and Resilience Community of Practice honored Carnahan and Collini with the Spirit of Community Awards on Wednesday in Covington, La., at their annual meeting. Carnahan was unable to attend the meeting.
Through their combined efforts, Carnahan and Collini have presented a great deal of climate science to coastal communities who can use the data for future climate mitigation activities and long-term planning efforts.
For more information about the Climate and Resilience Community of Practice, go to http://masgc.org/climate-outreach-community-of-practice/about1.