Texas Sea Grant Extension welcomes new planners

May 19, 2016

By Tiffany Evans

COLLEGE STATION, Texas —The Texas Sea Grant College Program at Texas A&M University recently welcomed two urban planning professionals to its extension team.

Walter Peacock, the new Resiliency Program Coordinator, is headquartered at the Texas Coastal Watershed Program (TCWP) office in Houston, while Karen Bareford, the new Coastal Planning Specialist, is working from Texas Sea Grant’s offices at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Peacock, who holds a master’s degree in urban planning from Texas A&M, joins the program after working as a planner with the Harris County Community Services Department, where he was a project manager for non-housing Ike and Dolly disaster recovery environmental reviews and low income housing tax credits consistency policy. He also conducted environmental reviews of yearly Community Development Block Grant projects and processed GIS map and census data requests.

As a Sea Grant resilience coordinator, Peacock will be working closely with Race Hodges, the Texas A&M AgriLife resilience coordinator also located at TCWP, which is a partnership between Texas Sea Grant and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. They will focus on the Community Engagement and Risk Communication (CERC) program, a project funded by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to build risk awareness and disaster resiliency at local levels, while also helping local officials and citizens make sense of the many challenges and opportunities involved in growth planning.

“I am very pleased that Walter is joining our team to work on our Coastal Resiliency project. His experience in hazards and urban planning, as well as his knowledge of state and federal resources to communities, makes our team stronger,” said Joshua Gunn, Texas Sea Grant Extension Program Leader. “He brings the number of planners in Texas Sea Grant up to four, and with each of them having their own unique skillset, we will be able to address a number of issues in coastal communities to help them become more resilient.”

Together Peacock and Hodges will develop an evaluative framework for coastal communities and hold resiliency workshops in priority counties on the Texas coast. "I am enthusiastic about working for Texas Sea Grant and looking forward to providing resiliency support to our communities," Peacock said.

Bareford, who has a Ph.D. in urban and regional planning from Florida State University, was most recently employed as a planner for the State of Florida in its Florida Coastal Office in Tallahassee, where she worked with coastal and marine spatial planning, ocean policy, ocean management, coastal planning, coastal development, environmental planning and park planning.

At Texas Sea Grant, she will lead the Coastal Planning Program, which provides education, outreach and technical assistance to coastal communities with limited planning capacity. She will also conduct research on coastal planning, policy and management.

“Texas Sea Grant is very fortunate to have Karen join our team,” Gunn said. “She has a number of years of experience in environmental education as well as environmental planning. With her research and educational background, I am confident that Karen will be able to help Texas Sea Grant work on community resilience issues, as well as expand our programming to assist Texans with other coastal and marine‐related issues.”

She will guide coastal communities through Coastal Community Resilience Index assessments to help them identify their planning needs, as well as conduct outreach and education activities and provide technical assistance to enhance Texas Sea Grant Extension efforts to support healthy coastal ecosystems.

“Joining the Texas Sea Grant Team is an amazing opportunity,” Bareford said. “I am looking forward to working with the rest of the team, our partners and the local communities to ensure a long, sustainable and prosperous future for our coastal communities and ecosystems.”

Photos below are of Walter Peacock and Karen Bareford.

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Texas Sea Grant is a unique partnership that unites the resources of the federal government, the State of Texas and universities across the state to create knowledge, tools, products and services that benefit the economy, the environment and the citizens of Texas. It is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 33 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. Texas Sea Grant is a non-academic research center in the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University. The program’s mission is to improve the understanding, wise use and stewardship of Texas coastal and marine resources.