Pennsylvania Sea Grant Coastal Outreach Specialist; Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

Job Title: 
Pennsylvania Sea Grant Coastal Outreach Specialist
Job Location: 
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania


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Pennsylvania Sea Grant (PASG, a partnership of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Penn State University, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is dedicated to promoting the ecological and economic sustainability of Pennsylvania’s coastal resources through the development of science-based research, education, and extension programs. Pennsylvania Sea Grant is part of a national network of 34 Sea Grant College Programs.


Pennsylvania Sea Grant seeks an experienced outreach professional to plan, develop, implement, and evaluate a regional outreach program with a focus on healthy watersheds, watershed restoration, and community resiliency in the Susquehanna River Watershed. Issues to be addressed may include climate adaptation, extreme weather impacts, and water quality improvements. This position will work closely with universities, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations to develop programming relevant to Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River watersheds that may be replicated in other regional estuarine and riverine systems. Groups served may include regional communities, businesses, municipalities, public and private landowners, and educators.


The Coastal Outreach Specialist will focus their outreach efforts on healthy watersheds, watershed restoration, and community resilience. The specialist will work independently, with Pennsylvania Sea Grant staff, and in cooperation with other Sea Grant programs, partner agencies, and organizations to accomplish the goals and outcomes relevant to their areas of expertise within the Pennsylvania Sea Grant strategic plan and National Sea Grant visioning plans, including:

  • Ensuring that vulnerable and at-risk communities are aware of changing conditions and have information to improve their resilience, economies, and community well-being. 
  • Sustaining and protecting water resources to meet emerging needs of the communities, economies and ecosystems that depend on them. 
  • Providing outreach about weather trends and extremes and the resulting impacts to Pennsylvania’s lands, waters, and citizens, and offering regionally specific adaptation recommendations.  
  • Working with local governments and community groups to increase capacity and funding to implement strategies to improve community resiliency and water quality. 
  • Developing and providing outreach programs and tools to increase understanding of the inter-relatedness of weather, climate, and human and ecological health, which result in climate-resilient communities.


Specific duties may include: 

  • Working with local communities to assess baseline knowledge of weather and climate risks and watershed planning capacity, address knowledge gaps, and identify information and research needs to implement adaptation and restoration planning.
  • Working with communities to develop/create strategies to engage with local stakeholders (residents, property owners, business owners, municipal officials, and others) to prioritize needs and necessary actions to include in local resilience and watershed plans and policies.
  • Working to identify external barriers, challenges, and other constraining factors to community-level implementation of measures to improve climate resiliency and watershed restoration.
  • Seeking opportunities to improve capacity and bring additional research and implementation funding to local and regional efforts.
  • Using the Chester Green Stormwater Infrastructure Plan as a model, work with communities to develop similar local and regional plans and strategies to implement solutions for stormwater and watershed restoration challenges, focusing on opportunities that generate environmental, social, and economic co-benefits.
  • Developing local and regional case studies on green infrastructure projects to share with community leaders to help convey the benefits of green infrastructure to help manage stormwater.
  • Identifying research opportunities to fill identified gaps in weather and climate information, watershed restoration, green stormwater infrastructure implementation, and data needs, and to address implementation challenges.


Internally, the specialist will participate in the solicitation and review cycle for Sea Grant research, conveying stakeholder priorities and linking them with the research community, and be responsible for periodically reporting project updates and progress reports, and needs, metrics and/or outcomes for programmatic reporting. 


Occasional weekend and evening hours will be required. This position will require local travel, and overnight travel for statewide meetings and conferences. Occasional travel throughout the U.S. for regional and national meetings and conferences is also expected. The specialist will perform other related duties as assigned or requested, and the program reserves the right to add or change duties at any time. This position offers the opportunity for partial remote work but will require presence at Pennsylvania Sea Grant offices as needed.


Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s Degree and least four years of work experience (or an equivalent combination of education and experience) relevant to the programmatic responsibilities of the position including, but not limited to, aquatic science, natural resources, geology, planning, conservation management, marine and coastal resources, environmental policy or management, climate adaptation, water quality improvements, or related fields focusing on coastal resilience.
  • Demonstrated experience working with and facilitating cooperative processes with other agencies, community-based organizations, coalitions, or local governments, to address programmatic priorities and needs.
  • Demonstrated outreach and education experience, and ability to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences using a variety of methods and technology.
  • Ability to effectively work with people from different cultural backgrounds, including those associated with race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, socioeconomic status, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, and other aspects of human diversity.
  • Must be able to meet the travel requirements of the position and have reliable transportation as well as have and maintain a valid and unrestricted Pennsylvania driver’s license.
  • Computer literacy including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, email and web browsers.


Preferred Qualifications:  

  • Master’s Degree and an additional two or more years of related experience.
  • Demonstrated proficient ability in project development and management, grant development and management, and documenting programmatic outcomes and impacts.
  • Strong project management and excellent interpersonal skills are essential to successfully fulfilling the responsibilities of this position.
  • Proficiency in developing workshops and presentations, facilitating groups, and coordinating with a variety of councils, boards, commissions, agencies and stakeholder groups.
  • Experience in grant writing and managing grants and grant-funded projects and studies.
  • Excellent project management skills and demonstrated ability to work successfully within a team setting as well as independently on projects, grants and outreach across a wide range of settings and groups.
  • Demonstrated experience in developing, planning, and implementing education or outreach programs for diverse audiences.  
  • Demonstrated ability of working effectively in a team setting with staff, constituents and partners with varying backgrounds, interests, and abilities in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
  • Excellent written, interpersonal, and group presentation communication skills, with demonstrated experience in communicating science to non-scientists.
  • Self-motivated with demonstrated ability to work independently. 
  • Demonstrated experience working with community leaders on addressing vulnerabilities or increasing resilience to weather- or climate-related hazards.


The position will focus on south-central and central Pennsylvania. This position will be based out of Pennsylvania Sea Grant’s Harrisburg, PA office. This is a full-time, grant funded position. The successful candidate is expected to develop an extramurally funded program that generates at least 25% of their annual salary within three years of joining the staff. This is a fixed-term appointment funded for one year from date of hire with excellent possibility of re-funding.


Employment will require successful completion of background check(s) in accordance with University policies.


Submit a cover letter and two-page resume to apply. All application materials should be uploaded at the same time at the time of application. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. Please contact Sarah Whitney, Director, Pennsylvania Sea Grant, swhitney [at] with questions about the position. 


Candidates must be authorized to work in the United States without sponsorship. 



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Employment with the University will require successful completion of background check(s) in accordance with University policies. 

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