Services provided by this outreach program include access to information on new issues at the local, state and national levels; delivery of educational programs and workshops; and coordination with research faculty in addressing industry’s needs. Some examples of these outreach activities include:
- Current information available through a news blog, website, and social media;
- Extension publications available online at UF’s Electronic Data Information Source (EDIS), Florida Sea Grant, and the USDA Southern Regional Aquaculture Center;
- Water quality information for selected clam lease areas available in real-time and archived as monthly and annual graphs at this site;
- Pictorial guides available on CDs and at this site, including What’s in the Clam Bag?, which features over 150 marine organisms found in, on, and around a clam bag, and What do Clams Eat?, which identifies potential food sources and provides information about phytoplankton quantity and quality;
- Industry workshops during which reports of ongoing research and extension projects are provided;
- Support to local, state, and regional growers associations and organizations; and
- Support through participation in relevant working groups, task forces, and committees of various county, state, and federal agencies.
The statewide shellfish extension agent and staff are also involved in working with researchers on applied projects assisting the industry in:
- Genetic Improvement of Clam Stocks – Evaluation of clam stock diversity and development of a hardier clam strain through basic breeding techniques (e.g., hybridization, backcrossing, triploidy, and biomarker selection) to improve summer performance;
- Clam Health Monitoring – Examination of clams to determine health of stocks and presence of pathogens;
- Product Quality – Improvement of shelf life through alternative handling protocols and determination of sensory characteristics for clams and other bivalves; and
- Species Diversification – Investigation of the culture and market potential for alternative molluscan shellfish species (e.g., blood ark, ponderous ark, and sunray venus) to diversify small-scale hard clam farms.