Common measure: Youth and adults

NOAA educates and engages audiences of all ages—from preschoolers to retirees—both inside and outside the classroom. We use a broad set of tools to reach diverse members of society, including videos, lesson plans, and museum exhibits. NOAA-managed places, like national estuarine research reserves and national marine sanctuaries, are living laboratories where visitors can experience science in practice. NOAA citizen science opportunities engage people with diverse backgrounds and science experience in research and data collection. From outreach activities that encourage curiosity in our programs to informal education offerings that provide opportunities for learning outside the classroom, NOAA supports lifelong learning. This common measure captures the reach of our informal education programs by counting the number of youth and adults participating in a given year.

Common measure

Output: Number of youth and adults who participated in NOAA-supported informal education programs.


Youth and adults: Individuals younger than and older than 18 years old, respectively.

  • Participants should be counted once per program per year, if the program occur over multiple years. Any youth or adult who participates in multiple distinct programs should be counted for each program in which they participate.

Informal education programs: A set of lifelong learning activities that are delivered or facilitated by an educator, meet clearly defined learning objectives, and provided outside the established formal education system. Participants engage in these activities with the aim of enhancing their own knowledge, skills, and competencies from a personal, civic, social, and/or career-related perspective. 

Program types are categorized as follows:

  • Public presentations: Live presentations led by program staff presentations; docent-led Science On a Sphere presentations, docent-led hands-on activities, interactions/activities at informal science education institutions, speaker series, brown bag lunch lecture series, tours/open houses, community presentations, visitor center programs
  • Festivals: Science festivals, public fairs, public events
  • Youth programs: Summer, afterschool, or science camps, academic competitions (e.g. NOSB, FIRST Robotics); Scout badges or programs, 4-H, science clubs at Boys & Girls clubs, afterschool programs,
  • Citizen programs: Citizen science, SKYWARN training, safety drills and exercises, community education
  • Field programs: Field trips, field-based informal education, interpretive walks, canoe/kayaking programs, weekend nature walk programs, some citizen science
  • Family programs - Family fun, parent/toddler programs

NOAA-supported: Programs that are hosted in, or managed by, NOAA facilities or partner institutions and that include a "substantial involvement" by NOAA should be reported. Substantial involvement includes funding, facilities, or staff time, in other words, convened, coordinated, funded, presented or co-presented by NOAA staff. Program content or design must involve some NOAA science, NOAA data, or NOAA asset.

Data collection and reporting

Administrative records: Staff for each NOAA-supported informal education program are responsible for maintaining administrative records that document the number of participants for the current fiscal year.

Unified Data Call: An annual collection of output measures, disaggregations, and outyear estimates from each Education Council member seat. Data collected in the Unified Data Call is used for both internal NOAA reporting purposes, which includes the Annual Operating Plan (AOP), and for external reporting purposes, including NOAA Education Annual Accomplishments Report and Congressional briefings.


  • FY2010: This output measure was first reported.
  • FY2011: The following measure was reported as: Number of lifelong learners that participated in informal education programs engaging the public in NOAA-related sciences and stewardship.
  • FY2012-2013: The following measure was approved by the Education Council on August 31, 2012 and reported as: Number of lifelong learners who participated in informal education programs that enhance understanding and use of ocean, coastal, Great Lakes, weather, and climate information to promote stewardship and to increase informed decision making.
  • FY2014: The measure was modified on March 24, 2014 to align with annual accomplishments for FY13.
  • FY2017: The definitions were revised for clarity and published on the NOAA Education website.