After growing up and attending college in Maryland, Grace Walker left the Bay area to continue studying marine science in Hawaii. Now, she returns to the Chesapeake Bay as a program specialist and outreach coordinator for Virginia Sea Grant and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Association Coastal Ocean Observing System (MARACOOS).
Walker splits her time working with Professor of Practice Michelle Covi at Old Dominion University and MARACOOS. Walker assists with projects like the Resilience Adaptation Feasibility Tool (RAFT), which helps Virginia’s coastal communities improve their resilience.
Her MARACOOS work is part of a larger effort to ensure its datasets are informative and user-friendly. The MARACOOS OceansMap contains real-time information used for planning and decision-making.
“The state might use data in a certain format, and it’s easier for them to access,” Walker says. “The Coast Guard might use the same data, but want different pieces of it, like different color coding for the different wave heights. Then they know red is a certain range, and it’s easy to see on the portal that the waves are in this range to be able to conduct an exercise or not.”
Formerly, Walker worked as the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s assistant regional coordinator for the Pacific Islands. She helped assemble the Hawaii Marine Debris Action Plan that involved federal, state, local, non-profit, academic, and industry stakeholders. She also hosted teacher workshops and presented to students from second grade to college.
“I really enjoyed the engagement part with the different communities and teachers and students,” Walker says.
Photos by Aileen Devlin | Virginia Sea Grant