A young girl reaches into a tide pool. The sun is setting in the background, showing silhouettes of other people tide-pooling in the distance.
A young girl explores tide pools in a marine reserve off the University of California, Santa Barbara campus during an exceptionally low king tide. (Claire Fackler, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries)

2021 NOAA Education Accomplishments Report

Claire Fackler, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries
Introduction
Goal 1: Science-Informed Society
Goal 2: Conservation and Stewardship
Goal 3: Ready, Responsive, and Resilient
Goal 4: Future Workforce
Goal 5: Organizational Excellence

Introduction

Goal 1: Science-Informed Society

An informed society has access to, interest in, and understanding of NOAA-related sciences and their implications for current and future events.

Goal 2: Conservation and Stewardship

Individuals and communities are actively involved in stewardship behaviors and decisions that conserve, restore, and protect natural and cultural resources related to NOAA’s mission.

Goal 3: Ready, Responsive, and Resilient

Individuals and communities are informed and actively involved in decisions and actions that improve preparedness, response, and resilience to challenges and impacts of hazardous weather, changes in climate, and other environmental threats monitored by NOAA.

Goal 4: Future Workforce

A diverse and highly skilled future workforce pursues careers in disciplines that support NOAA’s mission.

Goal 5: Organizational Excellence

NOAA functions in a unified manner to support, plan, and deliver effective educational programs and partnerships that advance NOAA’s mission.

NOAA takes an “all hands on deck” approach to education. Our educators and partners work in different offices, programs, states, and even countries, covering topics that span from the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean. NOAA Education reaches preschoolers through retirees both inside and outside the classroom. This report highlights some of the many accomplishments that the NOAA Education Council and broader NOAA Education community completed in fiscal year 2021.

From the director

Louisa Koch, NOAA Director of Education

Dear Partners and Friends of NOAA Education,

On behalf of the NOAA Education community, I’m pleased to present our 2021 Accomplishments Report. This report highlights the important role that education plays in meeting NOAA’s mission of science, service, and stewardship.

In the face of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, our education programs have continued to innovate. Through engaging activities and programs, we were able to provide resources on climate, weather and ocean education, inspire students to pursue careers in STEM, and show that “at home” doesn’t have to mean “hands-off.” 

In this report, we celebrate the NOAA Education community’s dedication to empowering learners through science. From introducing STEM activities to our K-12 students to offering professional development opportunities to college students and educators, NOAA continues to break down systemic barriers and advance practices that support diversity and inclusion.

We deeply appreciate the dedication of our partners and the engagement of the people we serve. Without innovative organizations, talented students, and passionate educators, we would not be able to accomplish so much in support of NOAA’s mission. We look forward to working with you to enhance our education efforts in the years to come.

Warmly,

Louisa Koch
Director of NOAA Education

NOAA Education by the numbers

496
institutions
increased educational capacity through NOAA-funded centers, exhibits, or programs.
331,000
preK-12 students
participated in NOAA-supported formal education programs.
44,000
educators
participated in NOAA-supported professional development programs.
1.2 million
youth and adults
participated in NOAA-supported informal education programs.
48.7 million
visits
were made to NOAA Education websites that host valuable activities and information.
4,300
postsecondary students
were trained through NOAA-funded higher education programs.
783
postsecondary degrees
were awarded to NOAA-supported students in higher education programs.
not reported due to COVID-19
people who visited informal education institutions hosting NOAA-supported exhibits or programs.

NOAA Education enables people to explore the world around them, broaden their horizons, and learn more about environmental issues. This year, we highlight programs that helped students, educators, and the public develop a greater understanding of Earth and its varied systems. 

In brief

Featured stories

Everyone has a part to play in protecting our coastal and marine resources. NOAA Education works to ensure that people have the resources they need to make informed choices that support the environment and take actions to protect the resources they care about. 

In brief

  • In Turtle Trash Collectors, a project funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program, students follow along in a simulated dissection to identify the cause of death of a toy green sea turtle, complete with plush internal organs. In the process, they learn about sea turtle anatomy, life history, and the risks these animals face from trash that ends up in the ocean.
  • With schools temporarily shut down during the pandemic, staff from local National Estuarine Research Reserve sites put together virtual workshops and educational take-home kits for students to learn about the estuaries from home. Great Bay Reserve offsite link provided over 4,000 Grab ‘n Go Kits, which included an activity overview and crafts like “seaweed in my soup” and “frost fishing fun.” Kachemak Bay Reserve worked with Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program to put together virtual workshops about salmon landscapes and science kits that reached more than 50 Indigenous middle school and high school students in Alaska.

Featured stories

In 2021, the United States experienced 20 weather and climate disasters that resulted in over $1 billion in losses. After each event, communities came together to rebuild lives, strengthen physical infrastructure, and improve policies — all of which depend on public engagement. NOAA Education programs help people build the foundation of understanding that will enable them to be ready, responsive, and resilient to future environmental hazards.

In brief

  • It’s feeling hot, hot, hot! The Climate Program Office’s National Integrated Heat Health Information System and its partners supported community-led mapping campaigns across 11 states in summer 2021. Work to map urban heat islands is also supported in part by the Environmental Literacy Program
  • With support from NOAA’s Pacific Islands Regional Office, teachers from Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and Hawai‘i connected in July 2021 for a virtual workshop offsite link. One hundred thirty-four educators registered for the event, which focused on engaging students in climate change and community resilience activities and NOAA Data in the Classroom modules. Educators learned from inspiring speakers and local youth climate champions and engaged with a cross-cultural Pacific Islands Region community.
  • Surrounded by salt marsh, residents of Hampton, New Hampshire, experience chronic flooding from extreme tides and sea level rise. New Hampshire Sea Grant offsite link extension staff and University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) Innovation Scholars created a lending library of data sensors to collect pH, soil moisture, and more. You can learn more in this video. “In order to combat this problem, we need to give people the power of information,” said Jane Schwadron, a UNH Innovation Scholar.

Featured stories

NOAA Education has a long legacy of inspiring the marine biologists, meteorologists, educators, and other professionals of tomorrow. Our programs introduce young people to NOAA careers and prepare emerging professionals for the workforce, focusing on equity and inclusion at every step along the way. After all, when NOAA’s workforce mirrors the composition of the communities we serve, we can better carry out our mission. 

In brief

Featured stories

From award-winning educators to cross-agency collaborations, the NOAA Education community strives to go above and beyond to build an inclusive environment for the people we serve and to ensure that the public has access to Earth science education. 

In brief

  • Louisa Koch, NOAA Director of Education, was recognized as a Meritorious Executive in the 2021 Presidential Rank Awards. These awards recognize a select group of career members of the federal Senior Executive Service for exceptional performance over an extended period of time.
  • Carrie McDougall and Sarah Schoedinger, Senior Program Managers for the Environmental Literacy Program, received the 2021 NOAA Administrator’s Award for their work in defining a new field of community resilience education and supporting children, youth and adults to implement solutions to climate change impacts.
  • Susan Haynes, Education Program Manager for NOAA Ocean Exploration, was recognized as a NOAA Team Member of the Month for leading an effort to reimagine the way NOAA Ocean Exploration handles educator professional development and resource-sharing on deep sea topics. Over the past decade, Susan has worked to strengthen and establish new relationships with domestic and international ocean science and education communities and design and support a range of new approaches for educating the next generation of ocean explorers. 
  • Patty Miller, a Program Specialist for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, in Kihei, Hawaii, was recognized as a NOAA Employee of the Month for successfully converting their outreach program to a virtual format. Patty transformed her apartment into a home video studio and held weekly virtual lectures with schools, which proved so popular that the school system booked her for the entire school year. Patty later expanded her virtual offerings to include other sanctuary sites and hosted virtual interns from NOAA’s Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship. 
  • The Sanctuaries 360°: Explore the Blue video series and accompanying educational lesson plans, created by the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, won a People’s Voice Webby Award offsite link in the “Virtual and Remote - Science & Education” category. The Webby Awards, presented by the International Academy of the Digital Arts and Sciences, are the leading international awards honoring excellence on the internet.

Featured stories

Page 1 of 6
Introduction

NOAA takes an “all hands on deck” approach to education. Our educators and partners work in different offices, programs, states, and even countries, covering topics that span from the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean. NOAA Education reaches preschoolers through retirees both inside and outside the classroom. This report highlights some of the many accomplishments that the NOAA Education Council and broader NOAA Education community completed in fiscal year 2021.

From the director

Louisa Koch, NOAA Director of Education

Dear Partners and Friends of NOAA Education,

On behalf of the NOAA Education community, I’m pleased to present our 2021 Accomplishments Report. This report highlights the important role that education plays in meeting NOAA’s mission of science, service, and stewardship.

In the face of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, our education programs have continued to innovate. Through engaging activities and programs, we were able to provide resources on climate, weather and ocean education, inspire students to pursue careers in STEM, and show that “at home” doesn’t have to mean “hands-off.” 

In this report, we celebrate the NOAA Education community’s dedication to empowering learners through science. From introducing STEM activities to our K-12 students to offering professional development opportunities to college students and educators, NOAA continues to break down systemic barriers and advance practices that support diversity and inclusion.

We deeply appreciate the dedication of our partners and the engagement of the people we serve. Without innovative organizations, talented students, and passionate educators, we would not be able to accomplish so much in support of NOAA’s mission. We look forward to working with you to enhance our education efforts in the years to come.

Warmly,

Louisa Koch
Director of NOAA Education

NOAA Education by the numbers

496
institutions
increased educational capacity through NOAA-funded centers, exhibits, or programs.
331,000
preK-12 students
participated in NOAA-supported formal education programs.
44,000
educators
participated in NOAA-supported professional development programs.
1.2 million
youth and adults
participated in NOAA-supported informal education programs.
48.7 million
visits
were made to NOAA Education websites that host valuable activities and information.
4,300
postsecondary students
were trained through NOAA-funded higher education programs.
783
postsecondary degrees
were awarded to NOAA-supported students in higher education programs.
not reported due to COVID-19
people who visited informal education institutions hosting NOAA-supported exhibits or programs.
Page 2 of 6
Goal 1: Science-Informed Society
An informed society has access to, interest in, and understanding of NOAA-related sciences and their implications for current and future events.

NOAA Education enables people to explore the world around them, broaden their horizons, and learn more about environmental issues. This year, we highlight programs that helped students, educators, and the public develop a greater understanding of Earth and its varied systems. 

In brief

Featured stories

Page 3 of 6
Goal 2: Conservation and Stewardship
Individuals and communities are actively involved in stewardship behaviors and decisions that conserve, restore, and protect natural and cultural resources related to NOAA’s mission.

Everyone has a part to play in protecting our coastal and marine resources. NOAA Education works to ensure that people have the resources they need to make informed choices that support the environment and take actions to protect the resources they care about. 

In brief

  • In Turtle Trash Collectors, a project funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program, students follow along in a simulated dissection to identify the cause of death of a toy green sea turtle, complete with plush internal organs. In the process, they learn about sea turtle anatomy, life history, and the risks these animals face from trash that ends up in the ocean.
  • With schools temporarily shut down during the pandemic, staff from local National Estuarine Research Reserve sites put together virtual workshops and educational take-home kits for students to learn about the estuaries from home. Great Bay Reserve offsite link provided over 4,000 Grab ‘n Go Kits, which included an activity overview and crafts like “seaweed in my soup” and “frost fishing fun.” Kachemak Bay Reserve worked with Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program to put together virtual workshops about salmon landscapes and science kits that reached more than 50 Indigenous middle school and high school students in Alaska.

Featured stories

Page 4 of 6
Goal 3: Ready, Responsive, and Resilient
Individuals and communities are informed and actively involved in decisions and actions that improve preparedness, response, and resilience to challenges and impacts of hazardous weather, changes in climate, and other environmental threats monitored by NOAA.

In 2021, the United States experienced 20 weather and climate disasters that resulted in over $1 billion in losses. After each event, communities came together to rebuild lives, strengthen physical infrastructure, and improve policies — all of which depend on public engagement. NOAA Education programs help people build the foundation of understanding that will enable them to be ready, responsive, and resilient to future environmental hazards.

In brief

  • It’s feeling hot, hot, hot! The Climate Program Office’s National Integrated Heat Health Information System and its partners supported community-led mapping campaigns across 11 states in summer 2021. Work to map urban heat islands is also supported in part by the Environmental Literacy Program
  • With support from NOAA’s Pacific Islands Regional Office, teachers from Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and Hawai‘i connected in July 2021 for a virtual workshop offsite link. One hundred thirty-four educators registered for the event, which focused on engaging students in climate change and community resilience activities and NOAA Data in the Classroom modules. Educators learned from inspiring speakers and local youth climate champions and engaged with a cross-cultural Pacific Islands Region community.
  • Surrounded by salt marsh, residents of Hampton, New Hampshire, experience chronic flooding from extreme tides and sea level rise. New Hampshire Sea Grant offsite link extension staff and University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) Innovation Scholars created a lending library of data sensors to collect pH, soil moisture, and more. You can learn more in this video. “In order to combat this problem, we need to give people the power of information,” said Jane Schwadron, a UNH Innovation Scholar.

Featured stories

Page 5 of 6
Goal 4: Future Workforce
A diverse and highly skilled future workforce pursues careers in disciplines that support NOAA’s mission.

NOAA Education has a long legacy of inspiring the marine biologists, meteorologists, educators, and other professionals of tomorrow. Our programs introduce young people to NOAA careers and prepare emerging professionals for the workforce, focusing on equity and inclusion at every step along the way. After all, when NOAA’s workforce mirrors the composition of the communities we serve, we can better carry out our mission. 

In brief

Featured stories

Page 6 of 6
Goal 5: Organizational Excellence
NOAA functions in a unified manner to support, plan, and deliver effective educational programs and partnerships that advance NOAA’s mission.

From award-winning educators to cross-agency collaborations, the NOAA Education community strives to go above and beyond to build an inclusive environment for the people we serve and to ensure that the public has access to Earth science education. 

In brief

  • Louisa Koch, NOAA Director of Education, was recognized as a Meritorious Executive in the 2021 Presidential Rank Awards. These awards recognize a select group of career members of the federal Senior Executive Service for exceptional performance over an extended period of time.
  • Carrie McDougall and Sarah Schoedinger, Senior Program Managers for the Environmental Literacy Program, received the 2021 NOAA Administrator’s Award for their work in defining a new field of community resilience education and supporting children, youth and adults to implement solutions to climate change impacts.
  • Susan Haynes, Education Program Manager for NOAA Ocean Exploration, was recognized as a NOAA Team Member of the Month for leading an effort to reimagine the way NOAA Ocean Exploration handles educator professional development and resource-sharing on deep sea topics. Over the past decade, Susan has worked to strengthen and establish new relationships with domestic and international ocean science and education communities and design and support a range of new approaches for educating the next generation of ocean explorers. 
  • Patty Miller, a Program Specialist for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, in Kihei, Hawaii, was recognized as a NOAA Employee of the Month for successfully converting their outreach program to a virtual format. Patty transformed her apartment into a home video studio and held weekly virtual lectures with schools, which proved so popular that the school system booked her for the entire school year. Patty later expanded her virtual offerings to include other sanctuary sites and hosted virtual interns from NOAA’s Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship. 
  • The Sanctuaries 360°: Explore the Blue video series and accompanying educational lesson plans, created by the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, won a People’s Voice Webby Award offsite link in the “Virtual and Remote - Science & Education” category. The Webby Awards, presented by the International Academy of the Digital Arts and Sciences, are the leading international awards honoring excellence on the internet.

Featured stories