Oh my, what a year! Certainly nothing any of us could have foreseen. It has been challenging for all as we have been forced to deal with a pandemic that is impacting our health and economy, fires that have devastated many in our community and a political environment that only drives us further apart.
We can only hope that 2021 is different, though we know it will still take time to combat and then recover from the pandemic and all of its manifestations.
But within all of these challenges, we have also seen a lot of good. Almost miraculously, despite the pandemic, we were able to complete the long-awaited Gladys Valley Marine Studies Building. It’s a truly fabulous building that offers the capacity for significant program expansion, state-of-the-art laboratories and classrooms, a fantastic auditorium that will expand our programmatic and community activities, and a new innovation laboratory that will facilitate ideation, prototyping and development of scientific ideas for ocean research and application.
Moreover, this building is the first ADA-approved tsunami vertical evacuation building in the nation. Its presence adds a significant safety factor for all those who work in the vicinity of the Hatfield Marine Science Center should an earthquake and tsunami occur. Almost unbelievably, the actual moving-in week coincided with the worst of the fires and the nearly apocalyptic smoke conditions. Wow, it is hard to get one’s mind around some of this.
There also have been victories in the continued education of our students (both virtually and in carefully, spatially-distanced summer programs). We have also seen the completion of degrees for many of our masters and Ph.D. students. New grants and hires continue to expand our science contributions. The amazing faculty, staff and students of HMSC have continued their work, even with the need to work mostly from home.
I truly look forward to seeing more people around Hatfield, hearing the voices and excitement of school-age kids exploring our visitor center or talking to our incredible group of volunteers. I miss this core sense of vibrancy that is at the center of Hatfield — but I know that we will return to this and value it even more.
So much of what Hatfield accomplishes is thanks to your generous contributions. Your donations go to supporting our students and the facilities that allow state-of-the-art research and education programs. I thank you deeply for all that you have done.
This year, my request is somewhat different. If you have the capacity to continue to support us, I would like to suggest instead that you consider donating to any number of community funds this particular year; a year that has severely impacted so may. Whether targeting the hungry and homeless, or those impacted by the fires, or our small businesses hurt by the pandemic, or our community resources and cultural institutions — they all need our help. So please consider ending this year with generosity towards those in need. We’ll get back to the business of supporting HMSC next year.
You can find a list of Lincoln County nonprofit service organizations at www.co.lincoln.or.us/ourcounty/page/local-non-profit-service-organizations.
Thank you, and please stay safe and healthy while you enjoy the holidays.
Bob Cowen is the director of the Hatfield Marine Science Center.