Adapting to a changing environment

Like many of the animals we study, us Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholars must adapt to our new environment.  I am fortunate to be a recipient of the 2018 Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholar position with NOAA Fisheries.  Although working with NOAA Fisheries is a dream come true, this is not the work environment that I am used to. My experience working in fisheries includes wading through Eastern Oregon and Washington desert streams during the hot summer months while collecting population and habitat data. Common hazards during my prior field work included dehydration, rattlesnakes, thorny vegetation, slippery rocks, and getting shocked constantly while electrofishing. During my short time working in a federal office I have found the hazards to be extremely different.

To begin, my training started off learning about the hazard of data breaches and hacking. Recent hacking into large corporations and even during our last presidential election has led federal agencies to take a hard line approach to data security. Secondly, commuting may pose the hazard of getting your semi-formal clothes totally soaked by an unexpected thunderstorm. This will get you to think twice about grabbing your raincoat or umbrella on your way out the door. Lastly, given our current political environment there have been protests outside of our building in recent months seeing as we share floors with other federal agencies facing opposition from the public. This has led to tighter security and awareness of potential physical hazards to federal employees.

In summary working at a federal office has been quite the change for me coming from a field-based background. I have been learning a great deal about the organizational structure of NOAA Fisheries, diving into documents explaining the role of NOAA Fisheries under the National Environmental Policy Act, and meeting co-workers in different branches of the office. The people here at NOAA Fisheries are extremely passionate about the work they do and have been very welcoming to us interns. As there is much more to read about NEPA I will conclude my blog here.