New extension educators support communities on climate challenges

Connecticut Sea Grant (CTSG), UConn Extension and the Long Island Sound Study program (LISS) have recently added two new extension educators, Deb Visco Abibou (Western CT) and Sarah Schechter (Eastern CT), charged with facilitating efforts to better serve coastal communities dealing with a range of hazards and reducing barriers to developing sustainable communities. Deb and Sarah lead and coordinate tasks and projects supporting the five primary outcomes to be achieved through a five-year work plan:

  • Coordinated and collaborative regional response
  • Trained and empowered community decision makers
  • Integrated planning for infrastructure improvements
  • Augmented and diversified viability of government services
  • Strategized and effective implementation of projects.

The challenges facing communities include more frequent flooding of roads and bridges, wetland loss, coastal erosion and other problems worsening as climate change impacts intensify across Connecticut. Deb and Sarah are meeting with a wide range of community groups, NGOs, municipalities, and agency representatives – listening and learning about concerns, particularly the identification of barriers to implementation, inclusion, gaps in resources or access to resources, and what it means to develop sustainable and resilient communities in Connecticut.

Coordinated efforts across Connecticut and the Sound include partnership with New York Sea Grant (Sara Powell (Westchester County), Sarah Schaefer-Brown (Nassau County), and Elizabeth Hornstein (Suffolk County) and the EPA to support projects within the LISS program, established in 1985. LISS partners represent federal and state agencies, user groups, concerned organizations and individuals dedicated to restoring and protecting the Sound. LISS established the Sustainable and Resilient Communities Work Group (SRC) to help advance select objectives and implementation of the LISS Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) Theme 3, Sustainable and Resilient Communities.

In addition to diverse and extensive expertise, Deb and Sarah also leverage the considerable resources of CTSG which, for 30 years, has fostered the wise use and conservation of coastal and marine resources of the Long Island Sound estuary through research, education and outreach efforts. The program assists coastal stakeholders in addressing issues and needs related to aquaculture, coastal habitat management, seafood safety, climate adaptation (including to impacts from storm surge, sea level rise, flooding, and coastal erosion), community resilience, environmental literacy and workforce development. They look forward to connecting with you and co-creatively identifying ways to bring resources to your community and region!

To reach the the sustainable and resilient community extension educators:

Deb Visco Abibou: University of Connecticut, New Haven County Extension Center; (203) 407-3166;

Sarah Schechter: University of Connecticut, Avery Point, CTSG Offices; (860) 405-9215;