Supported by more than 40 years of practice and expertise in ecosystem-based resource management, Dr. Rob Moir has been the executive director of the Ocean River Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, since 2007. He is a distinguished educator, scientist and environmental activist whose success has been defined by his accomplishments in institutional management and marine policy. The Ocean River Institute, which provides individuals across the globe with opportunities to make a difference in saving wildlife and protecting various ecosystems, works with Dr. Moir in coordinating with local and national organizations to help save the environment.
Desiring to protect the environment from a formative age, Dr. Moir also serves as the founding chairman of the board of Ocean Champions and is a past vice president of science policy of Ocean Alliance, curator of natural history of the Peabody Essex Museum, assistant scientist of the Sea Education Association, curator of education at the New England Aquarium and executive director of the Discovery Museum. He has been a leader in the efforts to clean up Salem Sound and Boston Harbor, and was instrumental in the initiation of bio-regional and ecosystem-based collaborative management in the naming of the Salem Sound. Dr. Moir also succeeded in bringing together the five municipalities, an engaged constituency of citizen scientist, and eco-savvy residents to improve environmental qualities of the region.
Driven by the Moir family motto, “Not for self, but for all,” Dr. Moir remains consistent with his family traditions and notes that his profession is most rewarding, possessing the knowledge that he can collaborate with other passionate individuals in saving wildlife, watersheds, rivers and oceans. He intends to further urge other individuals and families to create better sanitary and healthy environments, thus leading to better qualities of life for humankind and wildlife alike. Looking toward the future, Dr. Moir would also love to see an increased responsibility of stewardship of natural resources by local, regional and national governments.
In light of his exceptional achievements in environmental conservation and activism, Dr. Moir received a Switzer Environmental Fellowship granted by the Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation, as well as a James Centorino Award for Distinguished Performance in Marine Education by the National Marine Educators Association and a Rockefeller Brothers Fund Award for the Development of a College Course on Cetacean Biology, Ecology and Conservation.
Despite his lauded accolades, however, Dr. Moir cites that the pinnacle of his career is the Ocean River Institute’s Blue Sky Over Massachusetts Challenge to Capture More Carbon with Lawns. An innovation prize for collaborative action is awarded to the town with the highest percentage of home owners pledging not to use fast-acting fertilizer on established lawns. Applying only 100% slow-release fertilizer in the fall if needed, as recommended by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resource, results in a full stop to nitrogen and phosphorus pollution from established lawns into waterways and groundwater. Relieved of the burden of excess nutrients, grass plants grow deeper roots, become more resilient, healthier and put on more foliage; thus, capturing more carbon.
A healthier lawn is more resistant to weeds and pests. Fuller turf with more root structures prevents erosion, the gouging and loss of soil. A denser lawn acts as a better sponge storing and releasing water slowly during extreme weather events. Grass also improves air quality by releasing oxygen, as well as trapping dust and airborne pollutants. Grass cools homes by absorbing solar energy. The Blue Sky Over Massachusetts Challenge to capture more carbon is a vital component to meeting the state’s legislated objective of “net zero” carbon emission limit for the year 2050. By acting locally at home, we have a global impact.
As a result of his dedicated efforts in concert with others, responsible governmental actions were implemented, such as the 2008 Massachusetts Ocean Planning Act, the 2010 National Ocean Policy and the 2016 Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. Dr. Moir attributes his success to his organizational skills, management expertise, and listening and communication skills. He is also proud of his innate ability to leverage his own personal experiences to educate himself and others on the increasing concern for responsible environmental engagement. Married with three sons, Dr. Moir enjoys whale watching, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, sailing and skiing in his spare time.
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