Walter B. Jones Memorial & NOAA Excellence Awards for Coastal and Ocean Resource Management

2014 Winners

image of U.S. coastline

Innovation, resourcefulness, leadership and a commitment to balancing the human use of America's coastal and ocean resources with the needs of the resources themselves—these are the hallmarks of the Walter B. Jones Memorial and NOAA Excellence Awards.

The Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) of 1972 created a unique and voluntary partnership of federal and state governments to provide a balance between land and water uses and resource conservation along America's 95,000 miles of coastlines, including the Great Lakes. In 1990, as part of the reauthorization of the CZMA, the late Congressman Walter B. Jones provided NOAA with the authority to honor the people and organizations of America for their dedication and outstanding contributions in helping the nation maintain healthy coastal and ocean resources and balance the needs of these resources with human use.

At that time, Congressman Jones identified three award categories as particularly important—excellence in local government, excellence in marine and coastal graduate study, and coastal steward of the year. NOAA later added additional categories to recognize the broad spectrum of contributions made by this country's many motivated, caring individuals and organizations.

The winners are of the 2014 Walter B. Jones Memorial Awards are listed below.

Coastal Steward of the Year

Honors an individual who has exemplified strong, sustained leadership in finding a balance between the human use of the coast and ocean and the needs of that environment.


  • H. Lee Edmiston, Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve
    H. Lee Edmiston was employed at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve in Florida for many years, as research coordinator and manager. In these roles, Mr. Edmiston worked effortlessly to improve the understanding of the importance of Apalachicola River and Bay system to the region’s many inhabitants, including the economically important oyster. He spearheaded a number of important projects, including the completion of the revised management plan that guides the future of the Reserve and the construction of a new education center that has become a jewel for the surrounding community and many visitors. As a result of his expertise, he was also tapped to lead the state’s response and restoration efforts following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion. 

  • Spencer Rogers, North Carolina Sea Grant:
    Spencer Rogers is being recognized with the Coastal Steward of the Year award for his exceptional service as North Carolina Sea Grant’s coastal construction and erosion specialist.  In this role, Mr. Rogers has helped private property owners, builders, designers and government agencies to develop hurricane-resistant construction methods, understand shoreline-erosion alternatives and implement marine-construction techniques.  His expertise is well known and his contributions extend well beyond the state’s borders. 


Excellence in Local Government

Is given to local governments that have inspired positive change in the field of coastal management by developing or implementing principles embodied by the CZMA.


  • Chagrin River Watershed Partners, OH
    The Chagrin River Watershed Partners, Inc., was established by the member communities to develop and offer technical assistance and educational services to address stormwater management issues by developing cost effective, prevention-focused solutions that are designed to minimize negative impacts from the expanding local populations.  The efforts by the Chagrin River Watershed Partners are an excellent role model for other jurisdictions to emulate as they address similar issues in their own communities. 

  • Currituck County, N.C.
    Currituck County is being recognized with the Excellence in Local Government award for its efforts to protect natural resources while supporting development. For example, the county created the “Currituck Goes Green” initiative that resulted in the application of sustainable development techniques to county projects and the development of a formal Sustainability Plan.  The county has provided technical assistance and educational programs to address a variety of topics, including waste management, education, energy-efficient buildings, and land- use/water-quality/ecosystem protection. Currituck County is a demonstrated leader in the green movement, making water quality and environmental protection a priority to secure economic and environmental sustainability.  

  • Town of Durham, NH
    The Town of Durham has developed a climate adaptation chapter to their hazard mitigation plan which presents adaptation strategies to protect areas of town that are at risk to flooding.  The town is very proactive at educating its citizens and engaging the community in its programs, often using innovative approaches.  One particularly unique project engaged students from the University of New Hampshire in a water quality control project.  When a spike in nitrogen was noticed to be coming from the university between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., coinciding with “party hours,” the town and students partnered in a project to divert the urine from entering the wastewater treatment system by capturing it in a separate container (AKA “The Pee Bus”).  The urine is then used as fertilizer by local farmers.  The town’s proactive approach has been favorably received, and is being used as a model by other communities.

  • Monmouth County, NJ
    In the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy, the Monmouth County Office of Emergency Management and Monmouth County Planning Department came together to provide leadership and direction for the Monmouth County municipalities interested in becoming part of the FEMA Community Rating System.  By combining their knowledge and departmental resources, the county was able to provide GIS support and enhanced education and outreach products and services across the county.  It is through the efforts such as these that the residents of the county will be better prepared to respond to future emergency situations. 

  • Town of North Kingstown, R.I.
    The Town of North Kingstown’s Planning Department has demonstrated its commitment to develop and implement a scientifically sound and practical community resilience effort.  These efforts have included the creation of high quality maps that were a key tool for the development of the adaptation policies, the prioritization of community and public infrastructure in need of flood protection, and the development of recommendations which will set the stage for the Town’s adoption of its first comprehensive set of policies and practices designed to enhance its ability to withstand and recover from floods and sea level rise.>


Excellence in Coastal and Marine Graduate Study

Recognizes graduate students whose academic study promises to contribute materially to the development of new or improved approaches to coastal or ocean management. 


  • Kimberly Bittler – University of Texas - Marine Science Institute
    Kimberly Bittler recently completed her Master’s Degree from the University of Texas, where she studied the importance of freshwater inflow, contributing to the recommendations of the amount required to sustain the vibrant ecosystems, including such important species as blue crabs and the endangered whooping crane. 

  • Barbara Doll – North Carolina State University
    Barbara Doll earned her Ph.D. from the North Carolina State University for her research efforts to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of stream restoration using the success of macroinvertebrates as a key indicator.  Her research effort indicates that project managers must consider watershed condition when selecting appropriate metrics for determining stream-quality improvements. 

  • Brent Hughes – U California at Santa Cruz
    Brent Hughes, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California at Santa Cruz, has been studying threats to and resilience of estuarine ecosystems, primarily focusing on manmade sources of nutrients and how the system reacts to excess the nutrients.  His research results will further contribute to our understanding of estuarine ecosystems. 

  • Justin Ridge – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Justin Ridge, a Ph.D. student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is using innovative techniques to assist in restoration efforts of oyster reef communities. He also co-founded a unique educational program for K-12 teachers, where fellow students and faculty share their research with the teachers, who in turn, bring that information into their classrooms.   

  • Paul Rudershausen – North Carolina State University
    Paul Rudershausen, a Ph.D. candidate at the North Carolina State University, is conducting research on the movement and survival rates of a small saltwater fish, the mummichog, in a salt marsh creek using a unique antenna array situated in the water column.  Using this technology, he is demonstrating the validity of a continuously operating system that may be useful for tracking fish in environments that are not conducive to active fish-sampling gear.

  • Sharon Settlage – North Carolina State University
    Sharon Settlage completed her M.S. degree at North Carolina State University, where she specialized in technical communication.  While already possessing a Ph.D. in soil science, she was fascinated by the process of  explaining complicated scientific research so it can be  understood by the general public.  Her articles in North Carolina Sea Grant’s Coastwatch magazine covered a variety of topics, and she is actively engaged in scientific communication. 


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