The Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI), Center for Climate Risk Management (CLIMA), and the NOAA Mid-Atlantic RISA (MARISA) welcome Benjamin Watson as the new Coastal Climate Extension Specialist for the Chesapeake Bay Region. Stationed at the Virginia Institute for Marine Science (VIMS), Ben brings a background in science education and engagement within the Chesapeake Bay community.
Ben grew up in Richmond, VA, and developed an early familiarity with the people and places of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. He studied Environmental Science and Watershed Management at Virginia Tech, before completing his Master’s work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, researching ice age climate change and vegetation dynamics.
In his previous position as Staff Scientist with the James River Association, Ben worked at the intersection of science, policy, and community outreach. He wrote locally grounded climate change curricula in partnership with Richmond Public Schools, advocated for proactive approaches to addressing climate change at the state level, and gave public talks about the anticipated impacts of climate change on the James River and Chesapeake Bay.
As a member of the MARISA team, Ben will work to strengthen weather- and climate-related outreach and communication efforts across the Mid-Atlantic, with particular focus on coastal communities. His work will be part of an ongoing effort to communicate climate science in a locally framed way – to build inroads and trust within affected communities, broaden the inclusivity of our outreach efforts, and ensure that resilience plans are constructed with the best science in mind.
‘I look forward to continuing to work with stakeholders across the watershed to promote informed environmental decision-making,’ he said, ‘and to make sure Chesapeake communities are prepared for the climate change challenges that lie ahead.’