Thursday, September 4, 2014

2014 Kelsey - The End of Things

As my internship came to a close last week, one thing was clear: I had learned way more than I could have ever thought of. Working for UNH Cooperative Extension and NH Sea Grant created a unique opportunity to experience the nuances of scientific research with a community outreach goal.

As I've mentioned before, earlier in the summer there was a small luncheon for the interns, their supervisors, and other UNHCE and NH Sea Grant staff. At this meeting, I was able to witness first-hand the considerations that must be made to include the coastal community's public in the implementation of coastal programs. Everything from volunteer retention to effective communication with local businesses to the best research protocol was addressed throughout the meeting.

My project was no less interdisciplinary. Often, tourists and other beach visitors would ask us questions while we would be out sampling. Most, after we told them, would go back to their business. Some, however, became very engaged. They were surprised to learn that cigarette filters are actually made of plastic. They told us of different beach disposal programs, including one beach that provides cigarette cones as a form of ashtray for beach goers. They ensured they would pick up their own litter.

The public's curious response to our sampling led Gabby and I to create a poster that may be distributed to the beaches along the NH coast. We wanted to provide a fun, easy-to-read poster that explains to beach visitors what we had been spending our summer studying. Each beach that we sampled has its own, specific micro-plastic data. We even included a picture flowchart showing exactly what happens to plastic litter. What started as a strict protocol development project quickly and easily evolved into an opportunity for outreach. This seems to be the nature of working with UNHCE and NH Sea Grant; projects grow and develop as the community's needs becomes more apparent.

There are, of course, many small tidbits of knowledge that Gabby and the other UNHCE and Sea Grant staff have imparted on me. I'm truly looking forward to being able to use those in my own future working on the coasts.

Friday, July 25, 2014

2014 Kelsey - Where's My Debris At?

After two weeks of sampling, Gabby and I have found some interesting data, but we've still got a long way to go.

Recently, I was able to present on my summer projects at a luncheon for the UNHCE and NH Sea Grant interns. Since most of my time has been spent transecting and sampling for Gabby's micro-debris pilot study, my presentation centered on the purpose, progress, and the inevitable glitches and frustrations of this research. I received some great feedback from the UNHCE and Sea Grant faculty, and I'm looking forward to learning more in the coming weeks.

Here are the transects that Gabby and I are sampling. Each point indicates the starting point for each 5m section of beach. The transects themselves include 5m-wide tracks of sand extending from the wall of each beach to transition from dry to wet sand.

The only thing that I wasn't able to do at my presentation was show some of the data Gabby and I have collected. As you know, the main purpose of my project this summer is to test a new sampling protocol for micro-plastics on NH beaches. Our data will be used primarily to determine any apparent differences between sampling methods. For example, is the method of sampling solely at the wrack line an acceptable process to maintain, or is there a lot of micro-debris being missed above and below this line? Do we find a greater variety of debris using the new protocol? Hopefully, we can begin to answer these questions as our summer of sampling comes to a close.

As the project has unfolded--and as research projects tend to go--Gabby and I have come up with more questions to answer. One of these questions asks whether or not the debris is self-sorting--whether heavier debris like plastics have a stronger signal lower on the beach than debris like foams or plastic films. This follows a physics principle that heavier items fall out sooner or more rapidly through water than light objects. As waves hit the sand of the beach, the water is able to carry Styrofoam further up the beach than they are with plastics. While Gabby and I don't currently have enough data to answer this question, here are a few maps that show the distribution of debris along the beach.

Based off of these data, there aren't any strong conclusions to be made. However, it's interesting to see the relatively large number of plastic fragments closer to the water.  Foams, which we would expect to find higher up on the beach due to their relative lightness, have a heavier distribution closer to the water in this sample. Other types of debris can be seen (or not seen) anywhere on the beach.

Monday, July 7, 2014

2014 Amanda - Local Fishsticks?!

Yes, they are real...just not in stores (yet!).

Kids loved 'em...and so did their parents!
In an attempt to open up new markets for local fishermen and processors, a team here at NH Sea Grant has been working on a NH Fresh & Local Seafood Value Added Project. This trial is currently being held by Damon Frampton of Portsmouth Lobster Company and Peter Kendall of Yankee Fishermen's Cooperative. Damon is working on fresh, cooked lobster meat but packaging only the claw and knuckle meat in order to lower the price typically driven by tail meat. This could bring fresh lobster meat to those who may not want to pay top dollar for the tail meat. It is also a convenient way for consumers to cook with lobster without the hassle of large pots of boiling water! Peter Kendall has been busy coordinating with a Boston processor to create breaded fishsticks using Atlantic Pollock. Most major brands of fish sticks you will find in the frozen section use Alaskan Pollock. But hey, why would we be eating Pollock from the other side of the country if we have fresh Atlantic Pollock right here?! Hopefully this trial will create a viable opportunity for "local fishsticks".

Our first official tasting was held at Eastman's Corner in Kensington, NH at their annual Block Party. We set up a booth with NH Fresh & Local information and had sheets of fish sticks (crisped up thanks to our handy little toaster oven) and lobster salad on crackers. All evening people passed through the tent excited to try these products. The only complaint seemed to be that these were only samples and not available in stores yet - a good sign! We provided surveys for those who cared to fill them out and collected information on taste and buying choices.
Damon and I getting ready to fill up the next tray of food!

We will be conducting a few more tastings this summer; some larger ones and other smaller focus groups. Once these are concluded and the market cost analysis on each product is complete, these products may soon be on the market! Until then...join us for a tasting. We will send out a notification on the Facebook page:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

2014 Kelsey - Summer work? Or summer fun!

Hello, all! My name is Kelsey Cowen. Although I am not a Doyle Fellow as the other authors on this blog are, I am so excited to have the opportunity of working for NH Sea Grant this summer! I was lucky enough to receive funding from my home institution, Mount Holyoke College, for this internship. Gabby Bradt, my supervisor for the summer, is an alum of MHC, so it is going to be a great experience to work with her!

Sand is apparently delicious...
One of my projects this summer will be working on Gabby's pilot study of micro-debris on NH beaches. Gabby has been working for the past year to gauge the amount of tiny pieces of trash on our local beaches. These bits of trash can be consumed by marine wildlife or small children who decide to turn the beach into a snack (I tried sand when I was about 2... there were tears). We want to figure out just how many of these bits and pieces end up on the NH coast.

In the first stages of her study, Gabby wasn't finding much. Some may consider this a good sign--maybe there just isn't that much trash in NH. But if you take a walk around our beaches, you will see that this is probably not the case. My job with Gabby this summer is to test out a new way of sampling for micro-debris that may provide a more accurate assessment. Last week, we set our stations.

Gabby and I at a recent clean-up of White Island.
Gabby and I will be testing the new protocol on three high-impact beaches in NH--Hampton Beach, North Hampton State Beach, and Jenness Beach. So far, we've managed to section off a single 100-m portion on each beach. These sections will help determine where Gabby and I will sample for the rest of the summer.

There's still a lot more work to do with this project, but a summer spent on NH beaches is not something I will ever complain about. Gabby and I start sampling next week, so stay tuned!

Monday, June 23, 2014

2014 Amanda - There's (about to be) an app for that!

At the winter farmer's market in Rollinsford.

Ever since joining a community supported fishery (CSF) this past summer I have wanted to get more involved in local seafood. 

It began by testing recipes for fun and then leading into writing fact cards for New Hampshire Community Seafood, the CSF I belonged to. My thoughts were to start helping the NHCS during the year to learn more about the local fishing fleet and seafood species prevalent in the area and create a comprehensive guide to seafood here in New Hampshire. As the semester went on I began questioning the marketability of printed information booklets to public audiences and how to best reach a wide audience. "There's an app for that" - Apple's marketing phrase a while back - popped into my head... I looked into mobile app marketplaces and realized that there currently is not an app for this! With a majority of the population being active smart phone users, I took my focus away from printed materials and set it on app development. I figured that this way I can create an easy to use mobile app, but also take components of it and turn it into printed educational material.

I want this app to be a useful, fun, and informative tool for consumers to find the freshest seafood in their area. This app will show people where to buy locally caught seafood off the boat, in the grocery store, at the fish market, or dining out at a nearby restaurant.

There will be an area to see profiles on all of the locally caught species including:

     - where & how it is caught
     - characteristics
     - nutrition facts
     - cooking techniques
     - recipes

Wondering when certain types of seafood are available? The "What's In Season" function will sort fish by species as well as month to find what is currently being brought to the fish piers. This data has been collected through NH Sea Grant/NH Seafood but will be updated according to actual reports by NH fishermen throughout the season.

Directories of marketplaces will give instant access to map location, website, and phone for all places selling local seafood as retail.

A stream of current dishes at restaurants featuring locally caught seafood will be updated by submissions from local area restaurants.

Tips on what to look for in seafood will help consumers when out buying seafood. Clear eyes, resilient flesh, clean smell...etc.

A map will show the user's location surrounded by color coded markings of retail and restaurant locations to find local seafood. This will be another outlet for direct web & phone access.

Now where the fun comes in...FISH SPOTTING: an area for people to share their favorite fish pics! Whether it is sitting down at a local restaurant, picking up the day's fresh catch at the market, or at home cooking up a fantastic meal - share it for others to see! The newest additions will be featured in a scrolling manner on the app homepage with access to a full screen set up. This will let users take photos directly in the app and personalize its description. Just a fun way to keep people interested in the app and to help build a vibrant community of seafood lovers!

Another aspect I would ideally love to cover is bringing a face to the seafood - introducing the captains of the boats! It would be really beneficial for consumers to see who is going out everyday to bring them this wonderful seafood. A quick bio and/or quote along with a pic - maybe even a favorite fish or dish!

These are all my ideal components - some may not be feasible at the start but I will be trying to incorporate as many as possible :)

2014 Ally- Ready to Go!

Hi everyone!

Sorry to leave you hanging - I have been “patiently” waiting for the UNH Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research (IRB) to approve my research so I can begin to interview people for my report. Because I haven’t been permitted to reach out to my contacts yet, I had a short work week last week and didn’t have time to update my blog. But I have good news; after two weeks of waiting the IRB has finally approved my proposal and I am good to begin my research...Yippee! 

Anyways, my short week does not mean I didn’t have a productive week. I spent my time finishing the literature review for my report, preparing the community champion interview questions, and beginning a rough outline of my research. 

Dr. David Burdick in the marsh(shown above)
In addition to my office work, I attended the third "Preparing for Climate Change in Rye" workshop at the Seacoast Science Center. The objective of this event was to educate members of the Rye community about the importance of the salt marshes in their town and was hosted by Amanda Stone, Kim Reed, and Dr. David Burdick. Burdick is a research associate professor of Marine Wetland Ecology and Restoration at the University of New Hampshire and was the primary lecturer at the event. He took our group both outside into the nearby salt marsh and inside for a lecture that described the importance of salt marshes in coastal communities as well as addressed the current health of the marshes. While Burdick talked, it was extremely encouraging to see community members become passionate and ask educated questions about the implications of sea level rise, land-use changes, and human activities on the marshes. I found the event to be very interesting and am looking forward to attending the final workshop of the series in August. 

The salt marsh at Odiorne Point (shown above) where the first half of the workshop took place.

The view outside the Seacoast Science Center (rough place to work...)

I was also excited to venture outside my cubicle last Tuesday and meet the other NH SeaGrant and UNH Cooperative Extension interns. We all got together for a “meet-and-greet” event where we got to know each other and learn about the projects each of us are working on this summer. It was awesome to talk with the others and get excited about what they are doing- I’m looking forward to hearing about how everyone’s work is progressing at our next event in July. 

This week I hope to spend time practicing my interview questions and reaching out to potential community climate adaption champions to see if they will be interested in talking with me. By next week I should be interviewing community climate adaption champions and getting into the heart of my project!

Wish me luck and keep your eyes out for an update soon,


Monday, June 16, 2014

2014 Amanda - How I Became Involved

Hello there! My name is Amanda Parks and am excited to be working with NH Sea Grant as a Doyle Fellow this summer.

I have been immersing myself in the local fisheries of New Hampshire for the past year learning the ins and outs of this 400 year old industry - and am still only just skimming the surface! I am a full time undergraduate at the University of New Hampshire studying Nutrition and EcoGastronomy.

Cooking is my passion and food is my inspiration. For the past 4 years I have been actively involved with an incredibly inspiring international organization, Slow Food, which has local chapters both at UNH and the Seacoast. Here people from all over the world convene to revive food culture across the globe. The focus is to promote and protect good, clean, and fair food. Often times we are disconnected from our food system and traditional food-ways, especially when it comes to seafood.


Over the past several years I have had the privilege of being part of many fun, educational, and inspirational food system related projects. Recently I have put the focus on our local fishing community.

In the fall semester of 2013, I helped to coordinate a fish fillet workshop and discussion as a part of the Slow Fish campaign put on by Slow Food UNH. Here we introduced eight different “underloved” species of NH-caught fish and invited Chef Evan Mallet from the Black Trumpet, located in Portsmouth, to demonstrate fillet methods. From dogfish ceviche to blackened acadian redfish and a seafood risotto, we empowered students to get to know their local seafood in a delicious manner! This workshop was featured on NH Chronicle and the video can be viewed here:!ZI2yJ

Also with Slow Food, I was on a planning committee who worked with UNH Dining to start sourcing more of their seafood locally. With an increased student demand, UNH gladly began a trial period of souring from Red's Best in Boston to bring local New England caught seafood to Holloway Commons. This trial period concluded with a Sustainable Seafood Dinner where UNH Dining directors as well as UNH President Mark Huddleston signed onto the Slow Fish principles to guide purchasing efforts in the future to favor NH caught seafood that has sustainable stocks like pollock and redfish.

This Spring I was honored to be asked to coordinate, as head chef, a seafood dinner for the Fish Locally Collaborative conference sponsered by NAMA (Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance). I cooked over seven dishes for a group of 80 fishermen, families, activists, and community members in New Bedford, MA. The entire meal was cooked from scratch using seafood brought in by both regional and national fishermen with an emphasis on underutilized species.

I have also been helping out with NH Community Seafood for the past year on creating informational handouts for their CSF (community supported fishery) shares. I worked for them at the winter markets with selling fish and promoting sign ups for the summer. 


Feeling inspired by my local fishing community, I dedicated my EcoGastronomy capstone project to developing a consumer focused mobile app designed to help people find local seafood in markets and restaurants as well as to familiarize them with the species caught here in NH. Now with the fellowship I will be able to continue with the development and launching of this app with hopes to expand into other regional areas in the future. Stayed my next post I will talk more about the app, its features, and it's projected release as well as the other components of my fellowship.

If you ever have a question or want to know more about what I am doing, please feel free to e-mail me at: