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Meet Samantha Tolken: Investigative Support Technician

March 05, 2021

Samantha Tolken is an Investigative Support Technician for NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement, Northeast Division.

Samantha Tolken working on the water with lobster traps. Samantha Tolken working on the water with lobster traps.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Cape Cod, Massachusetts in the town of Bourne along the Cape Cod Canal. 

What is your educational background?

I received a B.S. in Marine Biology and Spanish from Roger Williams University. I was always interested in marine biology and conservation. When I was young I must have read Shark Lady, a book about the scientist Eugenie Clark, at least 50 times. Looking back, being exposed to science as a child definitely encouraged me to pursue a career in this field. My parents and a few teachers along the way were also major reasons why I chose this career path.

How did you come to work at NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement?

In 2011, I moved to Gloucester, Massachusetts to begin a career as a fisheries observer. I was a contractor with NOAA for nine years in various field and office positions in New England, the Gulf of Mexico, and Alaska. I then joined NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement as a federal employee. Much of my previous work experience has been very useful in my current role. These include my experience as a fisheries observer onboard commercial fishing vessels and as a port-side fisheries sampler at seafood dealers. In addition, I’ve collected field evidence for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill damage assessment and coordinated staff for the fisheries observer program. I monitored environmental activities impacting sturgeon and marine mammals for construction projects and offshore wind farm installations. 

What are your key responsibilities?

I assist agents and officers with data analysis, case preparation, and investigations involving commercial fishing vessel activities. I also monitor fishing vessels using satellite-based computer programs, and assist fishing industry members with compliance in federal regulations. Some days on the job I’m on the phone assisting industry members and answering their questions. Other days, I am creating GIS charts to show fishing vessel violations or collecting and preparing data for a case entry.

What are some of your hobbies and interests?

I love hiking, spending time on the water, and traveling. I also coach a local high school women’s soccer team, and in my free time I’m working towards my M.B.A. in Environmental Policy.

What advice would you have for today's youth interested in a federal government career?

I would encourage anyone interested in a federal government career to find a job that they are passionate about. Look for an agency whose goals you believe in and a mission you want to help support.

Last updated by Office of Law Enforcement on March 05, 2021