2023: The year in photos

We asked members of the NOAA Education community to share their most memorable photos from 2023. These images highlight program successes and challenges while honoring the dedication of teachers, educators, and NOAA staff across the country. Take a look at our favorite photos of the year.

Children and adults gather to assist two scientists launching a weather balloon in windy conditions. The U.S., Colorado, and NOAA flags flutter in the breeze, framed by the Flatiron Mountains in the distance.

Amidst the gusty winds at the annual 2023 NOAA Boulder Take Your Child To Work Day event, Patrick Cullis and Bryan Johnson led an exhilarating weather balloon launch, fostering hands-on learning and igniting the imaginations of nearly 100 future innovators.

Natalie Dornan holds up a large piece of kelp while standing on the back of a ship. She is wearing sunglasses and a shirt that reads, “Science is Cool.” Santa Barbara Island is in the background on a very flat and calm day on the water in NOAA's Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

Natalie Dornan, an Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Nancy Foster Scholar, studies kelp forest health and conducted much of her research in NOAA's Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Here, Natalie stands on the back of the NOAA research vessel Shearwater holding a large piece of kelp.

NOAA Administrator Dr. Rick Spinrad smiles as he looks over the shoulder of a teen sitting at a table. The teen, along with two other teens sitting at the table, are showing Dr. Spinrad some sketches and notes. All are smiling, as are two adults looking on from the background.

NOAA Administrator Dr. Rick Spinrad met with high school students during the first-ever eeBLUE Young Changemakers Summit offsite link. This summit brought nine high school students from across the country to Washington, D.C., from July 19-21, 2023. While in D.C., they participated in hands-on workshops to build their skills in taking ocean and environmental action as well as in advocating for their own voices to be heard by NOAA leadership. After this kickoff summit event, students returned to their communities to carry out action projects and virtually engage with NOAA leadership throughout the remainder of the school year.

Ten children stand together in a field of golden wheat-like wiregrass on a bright sunny day. Several of the students are holding scissors above their heads victoriously, while one child stands in the middle of the group holding a large armful of wiregrass stalks in one arm. All the students have smiles of success on their faces, and one child on the edge of the group wearing sunglasses flashes the peace sign.

Middle school students participated in the NOAA Planet Stewards project, "Propagating Understory Restoration Plants for Longleaf Ecosystems." Here, they celebrated a successful day harvesting wiregrass seed spikes from a seed donor site at the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve. They will use the seeds to grow and replant native wiregrass in an effort to restore a nearby longleaf pine ecosystem.

Juan Pablo Hurtado stands in a dark room in a museum with a large bright sphere hanging from the ceiling. The sphere is showing a large NOAA logo superimposed over a dataset of the Earth’s elevation and bathymetry. Several museum visitors and staff sit and stand in the background, looking at the sphere.

Science On a Sphere in Silver Spring manager, Juan Pablo Hurtado, presented data on the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History offsite link's sphere on World Ocean Day 2023. The NOAA Marine Debris Program released two new videos for NOAA Science On a Sphere, Introduction to Marine Debris and Global Marine Debris Model, which debuted at this event.

Courtney poses on sloping terrain against a picturesque Alaskan alpine landscape. A rocky area with low vegetation and mosses gives way to low grass as it slopes down towards another rocky area. At the base of the slope, an area is covered in snow and ice that thinly covers a pool of water. Beyond the icy pool there are mountains in the backgrounds partially covered in snow.

Courtney White, a 2022 EPP/MSI USP scholar, conducted research at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center's Auke Bay Laboratories in Juneau, Alaska. When she wasn’t in the lab, she explored Juneau by doing a lot of mountain running on Juneau Ridge. 

Standing in front of a group of more than a dozen children and several adults, Patrick Cullis holds up a small box with two NOAA logos that appears to contain scientific equipment. He is standing next to an inflated weather balloon and a canister of gas. The onlookers whose faces are visible appear to be watching with rapt attention.

Patrick Cullis, a scientist at NOAA Boulder, prepares a weather balloon for launch at the 2023 Take Your Child To Work Day event, captivating young minds with the magic of science. “Their eager anticipation is a testament to the excitement of witnessing science in action!” said Sarah Venema, Outreach Specialist at NOAA Boulder.

View of a pen-and-ink drawing of NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette across the spread of a moleskine notebook, placed on a desk and artfully surrounded by pens, ceramic decorations, and the leaf of a houseplant.

NOAA Teacher at Sea Gail Tang sailed on a Cetacean and Ecosystem Assessment Survey in the Hawaiian Islands. This is her rendition of the ship she sailed on, NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette. Gail teaches mathematics at the University of La Verne in La Verne, California.

A young boy kneels next to and points to a garbage can with a large sticker of his colorful artwork on the side. The illustration appears to have been done with markers and crayons and features a variety of sea creatures with large, cute eyes as well as algae, plastic bags, and a net with fish in it. Other garbage cans featuring children’s marine debris-related art are arranged next to and stacked on top of the can he is pointing to.

Xavier, a first grade student in Panama Beach, Florida, kneels with a beaming smile next to his winning entry in the school's Marine Debris Art Contest. Xavier's artwork has been turned into a giant sticker and placed onto the side of a large garbage can, which will be placed with many others around the town of Panama Beach, Florida. The art contest was part of the NOAA Planet Stewards funded project, "Clean Up and Restore: Empowering Our Future Changemakers."

Docent Ron Peterson and his guide dog Gidget stand near a large bush  covered in many red, tube-shaped flowers. Behind them, a gravel path winds through more colorful flowers, and the roof of a building with solar panels is visible in the distance.

The Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve offsite link (TRNERR) is one of 30 reserves in the United States. Ron Peterson, a docent for TRNERR who is blind, and his guide dog Gidget stand near a Baja snapdragon bush in the Reserve's native plant garden where he gives his "Eye-opening Experience Without Sight" Nature Walk every first Saturday.