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MBNMS Volunteers of the Year 2017 Scott Benson and Karin Forney

2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009
2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004

picture of Karin Forney and Scott Benson

Scott Benson developed the volunteer training course and methods for Beach COMBERS in 1997 with significant science and agency application advice from Dr. Karin Forney. Once the program was off and running and administered by NOAA’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, they naturally stayed on as volunteers. They have been monitoring the same 3 mile stretch of beach, monthly for 21 years, documenting beach cast birds and marine mammals. Both Scott and Karin show a dedication to Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and have been model volunteers for these past 21 years by walking their beach, without fail, each month. Moreover, they happily contribute to annual volunteer appreciation and training events, sharing their scientific insights and a knack for riveting storytelling.

MBNMS uses Beach COMBERS data to identify seasonal and long-term biological monitoring trends, and to detect any unusual human-cause or natural mortality events (UME), informing resource manager responses. Beach COMBERS data have been used to identify UME’s for Common Murre seabirds affected by offshore drift gill nets (eventually leading to a fishing regulation change), to detect a variety of oil spills (resulting in response and mitigation), impacts from harmful algal blooms, and an average of 2.5 unusual mortality events per year.picture of Karin Forney This kind of work is more than one agency can address with government employees, and the citizen science effort that Scot and Karin played a huge part in starting has resulted in 185 volunteers contributing to over 31,000 hours of labor.

Scott and Karin are so dedicated that Scott, a former beach lifeguard in southern California, in 1997, upon seeing a 25 year old woman get swept off the beach during a survey, stripped his clothes and swam to rescue her.

picture of Scott Benson











Reviewed: April 11, 2024
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