Photo Caption: Libby Carnahan of Florida Sea Grant, fourth from left, presents Tracie Sempier of Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, fifth from left with the Spirit of Community Award, which is an elevation marker. Also congratulating Tracie are Kristen Greger, left, and Rick Stickler, both of the city of Biloxi, Carolyn Martin with the city of Ocean Springs, Niki Pace of Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program, Marian Hanisko of the NOAA Office for Coastal Management - Gulf Region, and Stephen Deal of Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant.
Tracie Sempier of Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance has been awarded the 2015 Spirit of Community Award in the individual category.
The award, given by members of the Gulf of Mexico Climate Outreach Community of Practice at their annual meeting, acknowledges Sempier’s work in climate communication and community engagement. She serves as the coastal storms outreach coordinator at Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant and as the regional program manager at the Gulf of Mexico Alliance.
Other members of the Gulf of Mexico Climate Outreach Community of Practice (a group of professionals in the Gulf who work together to learn how coastal communities can adapt to sea-level rise, precipitation changes and other climate-related issues) selected her for the award.
“Tracie has been a leader in climate outreach and communication since the Climate Community of Practice began in 2010,” the nomination said. “While many of us were struggling to figure out how to start a conversation with our constituents about climate, Tracie was leaps ahead. Through her NOAA Coastal Storms Program and Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium affiliations, Tracie has been able to provide small grant funds to help communities in all five Gulf of Mexico states address climate change.”
Sempier also has worked alongside Gulf of Mexico communities as a friend and colleague listening to their values, helping to share those values among her extension and outreach colleagues, connecting communities with climate science expert and providing technical support on a variety of relevant climate adaptation tools, according to the nomination.
“In addition to supporting community climate adaptation efforts, Tracie is working alongside her academic, state, federal and NGO partners to share up-to-date, relevant climate science for the region; best practices and lessons-learned in climate communication; and new tools that support climate adaptation,” the nomination said. “Tracie is also often called upon by partners in other regions of the country to share perspectives on climate adaptation and lessons learned from her work.”
Sempier said she sees the Climate Community of Practice working to help communities learn ways to make their towns, cities and counties more resilient.
“Receiving this award is an honor, especially given that it came from my colleagues whom I have so much respect for,” Sempier said. “Looking back at the last six years, I am so proud of all we have accomplished together through the Climate Community of Practice. What we envisioned so many years ago has quickly been realized through the hard work of our members across the Gulf of Mexico. I will always be grateful for the support I receive through our community of practice and hope I can continue to give back in a meaningful way.”
The Gulf of Mexico Climate Outreach Community of Practice is made up of more than 400 education, outreach and extension professionals, as well as community leaders and planners, whose work includes contributing to the resilience of coastal communities.