Sunday, May 31, 2009

An update from a Knauss Fellow - Life with the NOAA Fisheries Service

Life in DC has been exciting and busy. Lots of meetings, trainings, congressional briefings, happy hours, Obama sightings (mostly imagined), congressional receptions (free food and drinks) and outdoor excursions. After 4 months on the job I am still far from NOAA acronym fluent but can comprehend exponentially more than when I started. Maybe I’m currently at the 8th grade acronym level? My Knauss brethren have been up to many interesting things and have graciously proffered their slices of DC privilege (parties with Senators, naval observatory tours, congressional tours, state dept tours, receptions (including one with a Saudi Prince), science briefings, free food and drink anything) for us all to share in. My office cohorts and “fellow fellows” have really made this an enjoyable experience that I’d highly recommend. Coming to DC and NOAA with other fellows as “insta-friends” is really a great way to be connected with other offices and stay sane in the cubical labyrinth. My office has been doing great work and I’ve been involved with bits and pieces of it. My major projects at the moment include: working on the draft eastern dps Steller Sea Lion 5 year review; assisting on the development of a 90 day finding for a petition to list Largetooth sawfish; and writing boilerplate language for federal registry notices. I’d love to write more about the Steller Sea Lion and Largetooth projects (both have been extremely interesting), but due to legal sensitivities discussion needs to stay in-house for now. Recently I hosted a “webinar” with folks from The Nature Conservancy about the use of their Conservation Action Planning Program (CAP) and applications for recovery planning in our office; participated in strategic planning sessions with our Assistant Regional Administrators and Science Centers; and participated in a large whale recovery criteria workshop. Upcoming projects include meeting about data management with a Berkeley/Microsoft program; helping with some of the pre-planning work for the Beluga Whale Recovery Plan; taking a 5 day recovery training course at the National Conservation Training Center; and helping put an agenda together for our joint USFWS/NOAA Endangered Species Act workshop. To get outdoors this summer I plan on participating in snorkel surveys of endangered salmon in Northern California in July. We’ll start at high altitude streams in the Sierra Nevada Range, dive into freezing pools of water with a wetsuit, count fish while snorkeling, then move to the next pool. I’ll hopefully get up to Alaska this summer as well. Next week is the NOAA Fish Fry which I’ve heard is quite a party. Please feel free to ask me questions about the fellowship and/or about any of the aforementioned projects. I promise no lists next post.