(BILOXI, Mississippi) – Members of the Gulf of Mexico Climate Outreach Community of Practice have selected Melissa Daigle, of the Louisiana Sea Grant Law and Policy Program, to receive the 2016 Spirit of Community Award in the individual category.
The Climate Outreach Community of Practice is made up of more than 300 education, outreach and extension professionals, as well as community leaders and planners, whose work includes contributing to the resilience of coastal communities. The group learns from each other about how coastal communities are adapting to sea-level rise, precipitation changes and other climate-related issues.
Each year, the group selects Spirit of Community Award winners in two categories: individual and community. The awards recognize outstanding leadership in climate adaptation planning and education.
Daigle is a resilience specialist and research counsel with the Louisiana Sea Grant Law and Policy Program. She has been active in the group since it began and led efforts to organize the group’s annual conference in 2012. She also will be organizing the 2017 meeting.
Daigle conducts outreach efforts for Louisiana coastal communities on sea-level rise, climate adaptation, flood insurance and other coastal resiliency issues.
A trained facilitator for the Coastal Community Resilience Index, she has helped numerous communities complete the self-assessment to identify their vulnerabilities to storms and other hazards.
“She has a natural ability to connect with people in her outreach efforts, which makes her particularly effective,” the nomination said. “Melissa works closely with communities, as a trusted source of information, providing research and outreach that responds to community needs.”
Daigle is very active in local and regional resilience efforts and frequently works with various programs including local communities, Gulfwide partnerships (like the Gulf of Mexico Alliance) and the Gulf of Mexico Climate Community of Practice.
She said she was honored to receive the Spirit of Community Award for her work with helping communities deal with climate change impacts.
"It's directly impacting communities in Louisiana," she said. "We don't have to wait 50 years to see impacts. It's happening now. Flooding is worse. Land loss is worse."
There is also some good news.
"The positive is that they can take steps now to be pro-active," Daigle said. "The Climate Outreach Community of Practice is great. As outreach professionals, we learn better ways to do our job, and communities can learn from other communities."