What is Sea Grant?

Orange kayak in Duluth-Superior Harbor with view of Superior, Wisconsin, and Duluth, Minnesota
Credit: M. Thoms

We've been around: For more than 50 years, the National Sea Grant College Program has supported coastal and Great Lakes communities through research, extension, and education. The National Sea Grant College Program was established by the U.S. Congress in 1966. Minnesota Sea Grant achieved college status in 1985 and is a University of Minnesota systemwide program.

Our mission: Sea Grant's mission is to enhance the practical use and conservation of coastal, marine, and Great Lakes resources in order to create a sustainable economy and environment.

Nationwide: Sea Grant is a national network of 34 university-based programs and the National Sea Grant Library.

Focus areas: The activities, products, and services of Minnesota Sea Grant support our four main national and local focus areas:

How we get work done for you:

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Research

Minnesota Sea Grant supports the work of scientists and researchers from Minnesota colleges and universities in a wide variety of disciplines. When urgent new questions arise from our communities, Minnesota Sea Grant calls on this network of scientists for information and science‐based solutions.

If the needed science does not yet exist, Minnesota Sea Grant seeks to provide financial support to make that science happen. Sea Grant-funded researchers work on coastal processes like rip currents, shipping and transportation infrastructure issues, coastal hazards, community resilience, climate change, stormwater management, and tourism. Communities throughout Minnesota seek out Sea Grant expertise to help them support and sustain their diverse and vibrant coastal economies. Check out our research funding opportunities webpages for details. A selection of current and recently supported research projects appear on our research project webpages. 

Our extension and communication staff members take the information generated by this research, clarify and simplify it, and use it to show people how they can use it to solve problems. Check out our extension programs webpages for current outreach projects.  

Extension

Minnesota Sea Grant provides a workforce of about a dozen on‐the‐ground extension/outreach educators and communicators who reside in Duluth and the Twin Cities and serve communities statewide. As trusted experts who are considered honest brokers of information our extension educators provide reliable technical and science‐based information to community members that address local needs.

Our extension staff members in collaboration with our research coordinator are charged with conveying research priorities from communities to our state universities.

Extension educators work closely with Sea Grant communicators to connect university resources and expertise with local communities and user groups. Extension educators and communicators might develop new information through original applied research or gather and synthesize existing information for community-identified needs. They regularly provide information and skills training through virtual workshops, online content, courses, lectures and meetings. They may also provide technical reviews of research and policies.

Check out our extension programs webpages for current outreach projects.  

Education

Minnesota Sea Grant extension staff provide valuable leadership in Great Lakes and aquatic science education activities throughout the state. In collaboration with extension staff from the other Great Lakes Sea Grant programs and coastal Sea Grant programs nationwide, we play a leading role in K‐12, undergraduate, graduate, professional, technical and public education in freshwater and marine coastal communities.

Education programs are designed to inform citizens in Great Lakes and coastal marine communities about how they can create and maintain healthy coastal ecosystems and economies.

We help prepare the next generation of professionals who will be involved with our nation’s Great Lakes and marine coastal resources, communities and economies. Sea Grant’s education portfolio includes undergraduate and graduate education, teacher education, K-12 curriculum development and programs, fellowships, informal education for the general public, special training programs for industry and much more. Educators work closely with universities, the NOAA Office of Education, the National Marine Educators Association and other partners to develop formal education programs, workforce training and professional education programs.

Check out our extension programs webpages for current outreach projects.  

Sea Grant History

The idea of a Sea Grant College Program was originally suggested by oceanographer, inventor, and writer, Athelstan Spilhaus at the 93rd meeting of the American Fisheries Society in 1963. Interest in the Sea Grant concept grew after the release of an editorial written by Spilhaus that appeared in a 1964 issue of the scientific journal Science: " I have suggested the establishment of ‘sea-grant colleges' in existing universities that wish to develop oceanic work ... These would be modernized parallels of the great developments in agriculture and the mechanic arts which were occasioned by the Land-Grant Act of about a hundred years ago ... Establishment of the land-grant colleges was one of the best investments this nation ever made. That same kind of imagination and foresight should be applied to exploitation of the sea."

In 1965, Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island introduced legislation to establish Sea Grant colleges on campuses nationwide as centers of excellence in marine and coastal studies. With the adoption in 1966 of the National Sea Grant College Act, Congress established an academic/industry/government partnership that would advance the nation's education, economy, and environment into the 21st century.