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Two world leaders in aquaculture appointed as new members of the Board of Directors of the Kurt Grinnell Aquaculture Scholarship Foundation (KGASF). Wally Stevens, former CEO and current Chair of the Global Seafood Alliance (GSA), and Cyr Couturier, Chair of the Master of Science in Aquaculture program at Memorial University in St. John’s, NL (Canada) join the leadership group of this non-profit organization created to honor the legacy of the late Kurt Grinnell, a Native American leader of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe who saw aquaculture as a solution for tribal food security, sovereignty, and economic opportunity.

A lifetime of educating future leaders of the seafood industry

Founder of the National Fisheries Institute’s Future Leaders Program, now in its 25th year, Wally Stevens has always been interested in helping to train and educate the future leaders of the seafood industry. During his tenure at GSA and its predecessor organization, the Global Aquaculture Alliance, he has helped build the organization into a leader in educating and advocating for responsibly produced and sourced seafood and providing assurance through certification programs such as Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP).

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Following the appointment, Stevens stated he welcomes the opportunity to help shape the careers of tomorrow’s leaders from indigenous communities – whether First Nations in Canada or Native Americans in the United States – and help them embrace aquaculture as a matter of food security and tribal sovereignty. “It is an honor to be appointed to the board of this foundation”, he said, citing one of his favorite quotes from anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”.

Wally Stevens, Chair of the GSA and new member of KGASF Board of Directors. Photo: Kurt Grinnell Aquaculture Scholarship Foundation.
Wally Stevens, Chair of the Global Seafood Alliance and new member of KGASF Board of Directors. Photo: Kurt Grinnell Aquaculture Scholarship Foundation.

Opportunities for indigenous people to participate in aquaculture

Cyr Couturier, for his part, led several industry and academic organizations throughout his decades-long career, and served as president of the Aquaculture Association of Canada, the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance, and the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association. In addition, as a researcher and teacher, he helped shape the careers of many leaders in aquaculture research, policy, and production.

Over the past 25 years, Couturier has helped award more than fifty scholarships to deserving students, which he considers excellent preparation for his new role on the KGASF Board. “I look forward to working with aquaculture leaders in Canada and the USA to raise the profile of the Kurt Grinnell Aquaculture Scholarship Foundation to allow more Indigenous peoples with opportunities to participate in aquaculture in their ancestral lands”, he said. “It is a great honor to be part of this effort”.

Cyr Couturier, Chair of the Master of Science in Aquaculture program at Memorial University (Canada), and new member of KGASF Board of Directors. Photo: Kurt Grinnell Aquaculture Scholarship Foundation.
Cyr Couturier, Chair of the Master of Science in Aquaculture program at Memorial University in St. John’s, NL (Canada), and new member of KGASF Board of Directors. Photo: Kurt Grinnell Aquaculture Scholarship Foundation.

Honoring Kurt Grinnell’s legacy

As said, the Kurt Grinnell Aquaculture Scholarship Foundation was created to honor the legacy of Kurt Grinnell. The Native American leader of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe of Washington State was the one who saw aquaculture as a solution for tribal food security, sovereignty and economic opportunity. As its President, John Dentler, explains, KGASF provides financial assistance to First Nations, Métis and Inuit students in the United States and Canada who wish to pursue careers related to aquaculture and natural resources.

He also noted that the organization awarded three aquaculture scholarships in 2022, and plans to continue providing at least three scholarships a year. Dentler added that to do so, “it is vital that we build a strong financial base and establish an endowment that will allow us to continue the work that Kurt Grinnell set out to do: Encourage future leaders in this vital field”. Anyone interested in contributing to the KGASF Scholarship Foundation can do so by following this link.

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