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June 15, 2022

Vernon Smith, National Media Coordinator at NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

Vernon Smith, National Media Coordinator at NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
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Our guest today on the Outdoor Adventure Series is Vernon Smith

Vernon provides communications leadership for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, whose mission is to conserve and protect special places in the ocean.

The National Marine Sanctuaries, are celebrating 50 Years of ocean conservation and stewardship, and the Office serves as the trustee for a network of underwater parks encompassing more than 620,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters from Washington state to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. The network includes a system of 15 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments.

Aha Moment

I had an opportunity to join some of the researchers at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary off of Boston as they were out in the sanctuary doing some humpback whale research. One of the most humbling things that I've ever experienced happened when a Humpback and its Calf approached our research vessel. It came right alongside it and looked at us. And, you know, when you're looking at this calf, which itself was at least 30-40 feet long, and It’s just a Calf, and you're looking at this creature and you're thinking, oh my God, you know, this is just so amazing.

And to think that I have an opportunity to improve the condition, to try to help this whale and its calf continue to thrive that is so humbling and that's what makes you know, the work that we do so rewarding.


If you can find work that speaks to your passion, it really doesn't feel like work. Now let's be honest, working in government has its ups and downs.

There's the bureaucracy part of government that I don't like, but I feel like I'm very, very lucky because I really enjoyed my career as a journalist. I'm having a lot of fun working as a communications coordinator for NOAA and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

I've been lucky in that I've been able to use many of the same skills that I had in my journalism career, reporting writing, and editing. Those skills were transferable to my current job. And I think that people should know, who are contemplating a career change, it's probably a good idea to do some sort of a personal skills assessment, and just sort of see, what skills you have that are potentially transferable in another arena.

Next Steps

To learn more about the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, visit their website at https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/

You can also learn more about The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries on these social sites:




The Outdoor Adventure Series is a Podcast Production of Fox Coaching, Inc.