Kurt Grinnell died in April last year.

Scholarship team aims to keep aquaculture champion’s vision alive

A scholarship foundation established in the memory of an aquaculture champion in Washington state has announced its inaugural officers and directors.

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Kurt Grinnell, a Councilman and citizen of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, died tragically in April 2021. In his honour, the Kurt Grinnell Aquaculture Scholarship Foundation was created to provide scholarships to enrolled members of federally recognised US tribes or Canadian-recognised First Nations to pursue studies in aquaculture or a closely related field at either a technical school, community college, or university.

Grinnell, who served as vice president of the Northwest Aquaculture Alliance (NWAA), was a beloved tribal leader, a well-known and respected youth advocate, family man, and business leader.

To continue his vision, several of Grinnell’s friends and colleagues -working closely with the Grinnell family - decided to honour him by helping indigenous people embrace aquaculture as a career.

Jim Parsons: Foundation intends to keep Grinnell's vision alive.

Future generations

“Kurt’s vision - which the Foundation intends to keep alive - was to help bring more indigenous people into aquaculture as a way to assure Tribal and First Nation food security and food sovereignty now and for future generations,” said Jim Parsons, long-time friend and business partner of Grinnell, and key player in the creation of the Foundation. Parsons is the current chief executive of Jamestown Seafood, the company that Grinnell and his wife, Terri, started.

“Kurt embodied the belief of his culture that it is important to plan seven generations ahead. He understood that the culture of finfish, shellfish, and aquatic plants was an important solution to the decline in harvest of traditional wild species, as well as a way for Pacific Northwest Tribes to harvest seafood in their usual and accustomed areas as guaranteed under federal treaties,” said John Dentler, a long-time business partner and friend of Grinnell.

President and treasurer

Dentler, a retired aquaculture industry executive, now serves as the Foundation’s president and treasurer; vice president is Levana Mastrangelo, First Nations relations coordinator for salmon farmer Cermaq Canada, who also serves as a director on the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ (Ucluelet First Nation) Holdings for Economic Development; and secretary is Jeanne McKnight, executive director of the NWAA. McKnight worked closely with Grinnell in his role at the NWAA.

Other board members include Kurt Grinnell’s daughter, Jaiden Grinnell Bosick, a commercial fisher in Alaska, who will head up the scholarship selection committee on behalf of the Grinnell family.

Parsons is also on the board, along with veteran fish farming executive Wally Pereyra; Dick Jones, chief executive of Blue Ocean Mariculture in Kona, Hawaii; retired NOAA Fisheries programme manager Rick Goetz; and Paul Zajicek, executive director of the National Aquaculture Association, where Grinnell served as a member.