A farewell tribute to Jesse Schomberg

by John Bilotta with contributions from Cindy Hagley, Madison Rodman, Don Schriner and Tiffany Sprague

jesse

In June 2022, we celebrated and toasted Jesse Schomberg as he said goodbye to Minnesota Sea Grant after more than twenty years with the program. We wanted to share a bit more about Jesse and hope you’ll take a few minutes to share in our memories. Most recently, Jesse served as Associate Director of Outreach and Extension Program Leader. As time allowed, he continued to be a stellar Coastal Communities Extension Educator. To say Jesse made an impact on Minnesota’s water resources, Lake Superior and the Great Lakes would be an understatement. 

Here are a few examples of his contributions:

● Leadership in the Duluth urban streams and watershed protection and restoration efforts serving as principal investigator on multiple grants and projects, including the Duluth Area Watershed Framework, and facilitating a cohort of watershed managers in the Duluth       area.
● Development of an observation, forecasting, and warning system for rip currents at three
   beaches on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, including the Great Lakes Beach Information Communication Systems and Park Point Beach programs.
● Development of extension education programs that prioritize climate adaptation efforts, including encouraging communities to participate in the National Weather Service Weather-Ready Nation program.
● Participation in the National Nutrient Runoff Risk Reduction program where he helped shepherd the use of Minnesota Sea Grant’s Watershed Game.
● Co-led the Northland NEMO (Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials Program) providing local policy leaders with water resource information essential for land-use management and planning.

Jesse’s innovative, collaborative, and productive approach to outreach program development and implementation has benefited Great Lakes communities, particularly Lake Superior, as well as the lakes themselves. His varied work has contributed to a better-informed public on many levels. For example: water recreational users are safer and better informed via ParkPointBeach.org and community leaders in water resources are better equipped to make informed water resource management decisions. Jesse’s adaptability and enthusiasm to discuss and teach to all audiences — youth, teachers, residents, resource professionals, and policy makers  — has made an impact across many communities. 

Beyond these achievements Jesse served as a role model, mentor, advisor, and an active and respected team member on countless collaborative efforts. In doing so he has made a large and impressionable impact on the people and professionals working alongside him. Jesse has guided many Sea Grant educators, Green Corps members, interns, and other professionals who now carry with them a bit of his passion, enthusiasm, integrity and motivation to do great education and research. He led and served on multiple search and hiring committees that resulted in increased capacity and workforce development for the next generation of water educators and scientists. The many collaborative project teams he has been a part of continue with his keen sense for a focus on outcomes and impacts.

Among the many awards he has received, Jesse has been recognized by colleagues as a recipient of the Sea Grant Extension Assembly Outstanding Achievement Award and the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network Superior Outreach Award. Now Jesse is awarded some much-deserved time off to enjoy his family, his love of fishing, hunting, camping, trail running, biking, raising chickens and jumping into refreshing Lake Superior not far from his home anytime he wants, whether June or January.  

If fish could speak, if streams could vocalize, if lakes could pronounce, they would all join in the chorus of colleagues, professionals, and citizens in a song of thanks for Jesse’s great efforts and care. Join us in wishing Jesse the best of luck and prosperity.