Coastal federation announces new series of talks to inform, inspire 

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Whether learning which native plants to use in a backyard garden or how to effectively engage elected officials, a second year of the Coastal Speakers Series at the N.C. Coastal Federation’s Wrightsville Beach office aims to outfit local citizens with the information needed to enact change.

Ben Brink, coastal education and community outreach graduate fellow at the federation, said the second year of educational programming builds on the successes and challenges of the inaugural round of programs in 2014.

“The first year was a definite learning experience and we tried a bit of everything to see what worked well,” Brink said. The events drew more than 1,000 people after the office opened in May, he added. Some topics and speakers from the 2014 series will return in 2015, including a how-to presentation on oyster farming, a photographic introduction to the birds that call the North Carolina coast home, and an update on the political buzz surrounding conservation issues in Raleigh.

The 2015 Coastal Speakers Series will kick off with a Jan. 14 update on Titan America’s years-long effort to open a cement plant in New Hanover County, coupled with a discussion about potential impacts to the environment and public health that underpin the federation’s campaign to prevent the plant from opening. Coastal Advocate Mike Giles and Clean Communities Coordinator Karen Dunn, both from the coastal federation, will lead the conversation.

The next 10 installments feature experts on a variety of topics ranging from organic farming advice to sea level rise research, along with appearances from other coastal federation staffers.

Feb. 11

Learn how oyster reefs keep estuaries healthy and hear about the experience of Carolina Mariculture Company owner Jay Styron, who started a small oyster farm with his family on Cedar Island.

March 11

Watch Airlie Gardens Environmental Education Program Manager Matt Collogan and Progressive Gardens owner Evan Folds as they share advice on how to successfully tend a small, organic backyard garden.

April 8

Hear Dr. Paul Hearty, University of North Carolina Wilmington environmental studies department professor who will describe current research that studies carbon dioxide levels during past geologic eras to more accurately predict sea level rise.

May 13

See photographs by Audubon North Carolina Deputy Director Walker Golder who will share stories from his work with birds along the North Carolina coast.

June 10

Listen as UNCW Center for Marine Science’s Dr. Michael Mallin provides an update on the condition of southeastern North Carolina’s waterways and explain the role of stormwater run-off pollution and land use on water quality.

July 8

Join Melanie Doyle, conservation horticulturist with the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher, as she details benefits of including native plants in yards and gardens and offers tactics to get rid of invasive plants that commonly crop up along the coast.

Aug. 12

Learn more from Hope Sutton, N.C. Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve southern sites manager, who will outline the history and management of Masonboro Island, including updates on citizen science projects and public education programs underway at one of few undeveloped barrier islands in southern North Carolina.

Sept. 9

Stay informed as N.C. Coastal Federation lobbying director Rob Lamme offers a lighthearted look at the big conservation issues tackled by state legislators during the 2015 session.

Oct. 14

Bring your questions to ask N.C. Division of Coastal Management’s Rob Mairs, who will explain the Coastal Area Management Act program and how it directs waterfront development in North Carolina.

Nov. 11

Educate yourself as N.C. Coastal Federation southeast office manager Tracy Skrabal leads a group discussion following the showing of “Shored Up,” a documentary exploring the politics and economics of beach renourishment and sea level rise in coastal communities in North Carolina and New Jersey.

All events in the series are scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. in the Fred and Alice Stanback Coastal Education Center. Members can attend for free. A $10 donation is suggested for nonmembers.

email miriah@luminanews.com

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