Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small ski town in Colorado, called Breckenridge. My parents love the mountains, which made Breckenridge a really fun place to grow up because my parents got us on skis as soon as we could walk.
Where did you go to school and in what subject did you get your degree(s)?
Right out of high school, I went to school at Colorado Mountain College so that I could remain in ski racing in hopes of making a NCAA ski team. After an injury and attempting one more year of the sport, I was brought to the Southern tropics when I got recruited for NCAA rowing. What a change that was! I rowed for Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida. Go Bucs! I was captain for two NCAA Championship golds, of which I am very proud. At Barry I earned an undergraduate degree in Business Management and then a Masters of Business Administration degree, with an emphasis in management and marketing.
After life transitions I realized I wanted to pursue a longtime dream and pivot into a career in marine sciences, so I decided to go back to school! Four years later I got accepted into the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Sciences. There I earned a Masters of Professional Science degree in Marine Conservation.
How did you come to work at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center?
While I was attending the Rosenstiel School I began to really enjoy the classes focused on marine policies, management of species, and communicating science. As I drew closer to finishing my in-class credits I decided to begin looking at internships for the completion of my Master’s Degree. An email came through about a Communications Internship across the street at NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center. I jumped on the opportunity! After I got the chance to meet Keeley Belva, Lisa Belskis, and Allison Garrett during the interview I became ecstatic about the job! I was so happy when they gave me the chance to get my foot in the door with NOAA.
What do you do at the science center?
I work with the small-but-mighty communications team. Our primary goal is to take the diverse complexity of science communications and translate it into language that the public understands. Each day I take the hard work that our scientists do at the center and get it known, as well as understood, by other stakeholders and the public. The team and I do this through talking with colleagues, creating web stories, social media posts, blogs, fact sheets, story maps, website updates, and other digital communications.
Scientific communications is continuously shifting and will evolve overtime with lessons learned. It is important for me to be responsive to people’s needs for scientific information, how they perceive, understand, and use it to make decisions. Also, I am working to learn what the Southeast Fisheries Science Center wants to portray, how they want to be seen, and what information leadership wants to focus on.
What do you like most about your position?
I enjoy the people I get to work with, meeting new people often, learning something new each day, and the opportunity to partake in fieldwork. The communications team at the center has been very welcoming and exciting to work with. Since it is a fairly new team, I have enjoyed learning the ropes with each of them on a daily basis. Everyone’s drive on this team to get the work being done at the center recognized is awesome!
I really enjoyed the fieldwork trip that I got to participate in. I was able to go on NOAA Ship Oregon II for the Southeast Bottom Longline Survey. It was an incredible experience. Being able to tag sharks was life changing for me. I will never forget holding down a great hammerhead shark’s tail so my teammate could tag the beautiful creature, or tagging an adult tiger shark for the first time! I also really enjoyed the crew, working out on the deck before my shift, and enjoying the sunshine. So cool!
What advice would you have for someone interested in a career at NOAA Fisheries?
I can only speak to someone getting an internship into NOAA. Try for it! The internship experience has been great and very rewarding. I have learned a lot already and NOAA Fisheries is a place where you can try multiple occupations within the marine science field. Also, chatting with as many people as possible within the center while working here has been helpful. It is critical to learning more about what NOAA has to offer and all the different avenues that could be taken.
What does Women's History Month mean to you?
Women’s History Month means a lot to me! Being a woman that has been predominantly in male-dominated sports, degree fields and industries, I find it to be a wonderful time to celebrate women even if our contributions are usually overlooked. It is a month to reflect what women have contributed within society, culture, and progress, as well as come together to celebrate the strength of womanhood. I read that the theme for 2023 is “celebrating women who tell our stories”. This is a time to applaud women who are or have been active in forms of storytelling. I will take this time to pat myself on the back and high five others. I will gain strength from women in the past who have dedicated time to telling stories through print, blogs, social media, news, and other forms of communication. Also, it is a time to highlight the women, such as my mom and two sisters, who have taught me to stand up for myself, be confident, encourage others, build strength, and conquer my fears. One quote that resonates with me is from Serena Williams, “Every woman’s success should be an inspiration to another. We’re strongest when we cheer each other on.”
Is there a book, quote, or person that influenced you to be the person that you are today? Tell us why.
I think the quote I live by the most and have thought about since I was young is, “Life is too short.” It is too short to stay in that job you don’t like, to not hug a little tighter, to not buy that plane flight, to not take a chance on an experience, to not love more, to not do something beneficial for our earth, to be lazy, to be mean to people, to not accept others, to not dance when your favorite song comes on … And the list goes on for me. There is not enough time in this one life I am given to remain stagnant. This continues to keep me seeking adventure, working harder, and trying new things.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Outside of work I love to do activities outdoors. When I am outside I am stoked; whether I am skiing, chilling on a beach, paddle boarding, camping, hiking, rafting, scuba diving, kiteboarding, or free diving. I also love concerts, working out, hitting the dance floor, yoga, and hanging with my family, friends, as well as my boyfriend.
Ellie has completed her internship with the center. Fare well, Ellie!