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A One-Center, One-USGS approach to our Strategic Plan

Western Fisheries Research Center 2023-2027 Strategic Plan
Western Fisheries Research Center 2023-2027 Strategic Plan

In our last issue of Something Fishy, we announced the completion of our Center’s 2023-2027 Strategic Plan. The plan lays out our primary science goals, driven largely by local partner and national priorities related to managing our way through the impacts of climate change and human population growth. This plan will act as our primary navigation tool, guiding our science for the next five years.

In late January, we convened our Center staff who are project or division leaders to prioritize the work of our strategic plan and discuss changes to our Center operations that will increase our chances of success.  Twenty-eight of us met face-to-face for the first time in a long time, a welcome change from staring at one another through the ether. For me, a Center Director who started during Covid, it was the first time for getting to know many of my staff personally.

One of the main conclusions from our Leadership Retreat was: a one-Center approach, and more broadly, the one-USGS approach touted by headquarters, will greatly increase our chance of accomplishing the goals of our strategic plan. Our Center consists of four stations distributed across the western landscape. While each station’s science has historically been influenced by the needs of resource managers in their area, the skillsets our staff have developed have great value throughout the west, the nation and beyond.

In this issue of Something Fishy, we have a great example. Photo contest winner, Ryan Tomka, and many others from our Columbia River Research Laboratory are applying their fish tracking skills (in partnership with USGS Upper Mississippi Environmental Science Center) to help folks in the Midwest assess the performance of devices designed to keep invasive silver carp out of habitats important to native fish.

Likewise, throughout the 15 Ecosystem Science Centers, our National Centers and our broad array of Water and hazard Centers, USGS has an astonishingly diverse array of skills. This equates to a massive toolbox at our disposal, which is very useful when tackling complex ecosystem problems where the connections between cause (e.g., climate change) and effect (poor fish survival) are not linear. Beyond USGS, our many external partners also bring a diverse array of skills and knowledge complementary to our own.

We are implementing many strategies to harness the broader power of our Center, USGS, and our partnerships. Internally, we are flattening our organizations hierarchy, moving away from a few station-based leaders to several science focal-area leaders who will meet more frequently to exchange ideas and discuss collaborative opportunities. We are also implementing communities of practice at our Center, increasing our engagement in USGS-wide forums, and proactively connecting with other Centers and partners to develop the interdisciplinary science needed to be successful.

We are excited to enter this new era of collaboration!

Please also enjoy the rest of this issue of Something Fishy! We have another round of great content and beautiful imagery for you to enjoy.

Happy Spring!

Michael Schmidt, Western Fisheries Research Center

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