Five HMSC Community Impacts

HMSC contributes in ways large and small to the Newport, Lincoln County, and Oregon communities. Our faculty members are residents, parents, voters, and volunteers. From the arts to local politics to education, HMSC employees are woven into the fabric of the Newport community, ensuring that Newport remains a great place to live and work.


We contribute to the local economy

About 300 people are employed at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, and the ripple effect of those jobs in a small community is significant. A 2011 analysis estimated that the indirect spending resulting from the overall marine science and education sector in Newport was $55 million, creating a total of 1200 jobs in the region. The sector represents 6% of the county’s economy (as of 2013). HMSC faculty, including former Director George Boehlert and COMES Superintendent Gil Sylvia, have been spearheading an effort to develop Newport as a marine science hub in the Pacific Northwest, and to ensure that the cluster of marine science entities here fuel economic development in the city and the region.


We educate local teachers and school children

The Lincoln County School District has engaged in a district-wide Ocean Literacy project, the goal of which is to ensure that Lincoln County students are the most ocean-literate in the country. HMSC educators have actively partnered with the school district to make this goal a reality. HMSC is a common destination for local school field trips, and our educators have worked with teachers on everything from curriculum development to teacher training to hosting underwater robot-building competitions. In addition, every other year, HMSC scientists mentor dozens of local classrooms of children as they prepare projects for the local science fair; in fact, the science fair itself was initiated and continues to be organized by HMSC-affiliated faculty.


We engage in local environmental issues

HMSC faculty care about the local and global environment. Testimony from former HMSC Director George Boehlert on the potentially disastrous impacts on HMSC of locating a ship-breaking facility in the Port of Newport helped to defeat the proposal. HMSC researchers were the first responders to examine the potentially invasive species clinging to the dock that washed up on a nearby beach as a result of the Japanese tsunami of 2011. And HMSC employees participated on the working groups that developed proposals, now being implemented, to institute marine protected areas in the ocean off the Oregon coast.


We conduct research relevant to the local community

With so many local livelihoods dependent on the ocean, it is inevitable that research at HMSC will help the local and regional communities. For example, Brett Dumbauld, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has been at the forefront of efforts to find an environmentally acceptable solution to a pest control problem that has plagued West Coast oyster growers for decades: the presence of two species of burrowing shrimp which undermine the sediments that oysters rest on and cause them to sink under the surface and die. Ric Brodeur, of NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, works on feeding ecology of a number of locally commercially-important species, including salmon. This work contributes significantly to the management of salmon stocks, ultimately preserving the livelihoods of local fishermen.


We get involved with local organizations

HMSC scientists are actively engaged in the local community in ways that have nothing to do with science. PMEL scientist Steve Hammond served on the Newport City Council, and his colleague Andra Bobbitt served on the county planning commission. NOAA researcher Tom Hurst served as President of the Newport Symphony Orchestra and as chair of the Lincoln County Cultural Coalition. A number of HMSC faculty, including Gil Sylvia (COMES) and Cliff Ryer (NOAA), spearheaded the effort to certify the International Baccalaureate program at Newport High School. And emeritus faculty member Bob Olson has been engaged with the local historical society for years. Nearly every member of the Hatfield community has volunteered in some way to make Newport and the central coast a better place to live. The Newport Performing Arts Center, the local animal shelter, local churches, the Lincoln County School District, and many other institutions have benefitted from the energy and dedication of HMSC employees.


Senator Mark O. Hatfield...