The purpose of the Peer-to-Pier Fellowship Program, supported by an award from the National Sea Grant College Program and contributions from Oyster South, is to provide travel assistance funds for peer-to-peer learning opportunities.
Oyster farmers from the southern United States visit peers on their farms (or “piers”) in other parts of the country or world or attend industry conferences and shows to gain valuable, practical knowledge to improve their own operations.
The two-year program is now in its second year, and 12 oyster farmers have received awards totaling almost $10,000 to defray travel expenses. Thus far, they have logged over 65,000 miles to visit other farms and trade shows in order to learn directly from peers. The travelers have reported learning better ways to install, rig and manage gear, as well as exploring potential markets for premium half-shell oysters.
These farmers from Alabama, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina have visited farms and hatcheries around the United States, including visits to Bayou la Batre (Alabama), Cedar Key (Florida), Dauphin Island (Alabama), Cambridge (Maryland), Samish Bay (Washington) and Panacea (Florida), as well as farms in different parts of the world including New Brunswick (Canada), Chonburi (Thailand) and Tasmania (Australia).
Participants have also made use of the funds to go to the Seafood Expo in Boston and the Billion Oyster Party in New York. In each case, these farmers have come back and shared their experiences with their colleagues.
The next round of applications will be accepted up until Jan. 15, 2019, with awards of up to $1,000 per operation. For more information and instructions on how to apply, click here.