Group, Inclusivity, and Connection: Reflecting on the 2023 Girls of the Water Convention – Parenting Pointers

This weblog is a part of a collection known as AquaCuriouswhich discusses essential and common matters associated to finfish aquaculture within the U.S. This weblog was written by Florida Sea Grant Aquaculture Fellow, Hayley Lemoine, in collaboration with Knauss Fellow and Virgina Tech Grasp’s pupil, Kaitlyn Theberge.

The Girls of the Water Steering Committee on the 2023 convention. Picture courtesy of Hayley Lemoine.

On a sunny and humid September morning, the buzzing of excited chatter stuffed a spacious assembly room overlooking Sarasota Bay. Practically 100 people from a dozen completely different states and Washington D.C., gathered collectively for the second Girls of the Water convention in Sarasota, Florida. This three-day occasion introduced collectively professionals from various fields together with scientists, regulators, group organizers, aquatic farmers, college students, and filmmakers to discover a typical aim: rising range and inclusion in aquaculture.

Aquaculture, the farming of aquatic organisms, is essentially the most quickly rising sector of the agrifood business, each within the U.S. and globally, with an common development of 6.7% over the past three a long time.

Based by Blair Morrison throughout her Gulf Analysis Program science coverage fellowshipGirls of the Water goals to create a supportive group, promote studying, and supply skilled growth alternatives for marginalized teams in aquaculture. As the primary convention of its type within the U.S., it strives to construct a bigger group of observe for ladies, non-binary people, gender-expansive folks, and different underrepresented teams in aquaculture nationwide. The inaugural convention in June 2022 at Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota, Florida, marked the belief of Morrison’s imaginative and prescient with the assistance of her fellowship mentor, Dr. Marcy Cockrellthe present Science Coordinator at NOAA Fisheries Workplace of Aquaculture. Morrison and Dr. Cockrell proceed to co-direct the convention.

This 12 months’s convention hosted 100 members and provided a fascinating, participatory format with two keynote displays, analysis talks and posters, small-group workshops, a tour of the Mote Aquaculture Park, conference-wide discussion-based workouts and alternatives for formal and casual networking.

An addition to this 12 months’s convention was a mentorship program through which attendees of all completely different levels of their careers had been assigned a mentor or mentee. This system included a pre-conference webinar, a meet-and-greet breakfast, and a customized workbook with suggestions and guided prompts for each mentors and mentees. The convention provided pupil journey awards and elevated honoraria for invited audio system, made potential by nameless donors and sponsorships from Florida Sea Grant, Virginia Sea Grant through the Aquaculture Info Alternateand Mote Marine Lab.

Reflecting on this expertise as early profession professionals, and having served on the convention’s steering committee and mentorship sub-committee, we needed to share a few of our key takeaways. As we take a look at what lies forward for each the aquaculture business and our personal careers, we imagine there are essential classes in group, management, inclusivity, and connection from this convention to take with us and share with others.

Being a Chief Begins with Constructing a Group

Girls of the Water showcased how leaders in aquaculture navigate their careers and the position their skilled group performs in shaping their work. The convention started with a robust and provoking presentation from Dr. Megan Daviswho shared her expertise as a pioneer within the discipline of conch restoration aquaculture. She spoke concerning the challenges she confronted as one of many solely girls engaged on a distant island within the Caribbean, whereas emphasizing the inventive options she used to advance the science and observe of conch aquaculture. She underscored the significance of collaboration with native residents and the way the muse of her success stemmed from the worldwide community she established.

The next day, Imani Black gave an invigorating speak through which she took the viewers by the historical past of Black fishers and watermen within the Chesapeake Bay. She mentioned how the painful and stunning realization that shellfish aquaculture within the U.S. employs only a few black girls motivated her to alter the sphere by beginning Minorities in Aquaculturea collaboration of organizations and professionals that opens doorways and ensures that ladies of shade have the help and sources wanted to achieve aquaculture.

These talks made clear that being a pacesetter doesn’t imply working alone in a silo. To make lasting, constructive change, it’s important to construct a group that shares your mission, strengthens your efforts, and ensures the imaginative and prescient is carried on by those that comply with in your footsteps.

Inclusivity is the Basis for Collaboration

How does the method of incorporating range, fairness, inclusivity, and accessibility (DEIA) practices improve each day life {and professional} actions? Earlier than this convention, neither of us skilled an occasion particularly centered on girls in aquaculture. Aquaculture and fisheries are recognized for being homogeneously consultant fields and although influential girls have at all times been part of aquaculture, it’s an all too frequent expertise to be the one girl within the room, making it straightforward to really feel alone and even extraneous.

Whereas the convention is geared towards girls and gender-diverse folks, it was exceptional to learn the way a lot range exists inside these labels and to see the willingness of attendees to share weak points of who they’re and the way it has impacted their careers.

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