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NOAA Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program

Office of Response & Restoration

MEET: Rebecca Hoff

Environmental Scientist and Regional Resource Coordinator, NOAA Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program

I am an environmental scientist and regional resource coordinator in the Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program, a cross-NOAA group that includes the NOS Office of Response and Restoration, the National Marine Fisheries Service Restoration Center, and the NOAA Office of General Counsel for Natural Resources. I work with state, federal, and tribal partners to fulfill NOAA's trustee responsibilities to protect marine resources from damage from pollutants, and eventually to construct restoration projects to help restore damaged habitats and resources. My main projects are in Puget Sound, Washington.

 Rebecca Hoff and daughter

What do you like most about working at NOS?

The interdisciplinary nature of my job, and the opportunity to work on a team with people from other parts of NOAA. I also like bringing science-based solutions to problems that people care about.

What is the hardest part of your job?

Coming to consensus on complex issues – it's not so much the technical issues, but rather the complexity of how different agencies and organizations try and find ways to move forward together.

What is your educational background?

I have a bachelor of arts in biology and environmental studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, a master of science in fisheries biology from the University of Washington, and a master of arts in organizational development from Antioch University in Seattle. All are very useful in my job. I use my technical background to understand the science aspects of my work. The organizational background helps me work more effectively with other people, especially in terms of good communication. It is very important and often challenging to communicate complex technical issues to decision makers, the public, and other people who need to provide input. It is also important to foster good communication within your own team.

What inspired your interest in the ocean and coasts?

I grew up on the coast and love the marine environment. I also spent two years in the Peace Corps working in a fishing community in West Africa, and this helped me understand the close connection between marine resources and people's livelihoods.

How did you end up working at NOAA?

When I was in graduate school I got a temporary job working for NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service in resource management. In 1989, I moved over to NOS to work on pollution issues following the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and from there, I shifted to the work I do now on other kinds of pollutants in the marine environment.

What advice do you have for young people wanting a career in the "ocean realm"?

Be flexible, and consider different ways to connect with your passions. Don't be afraid to try new things or to change what you do. There's always something new and interesting to learn. Also, learn to recognize and capitalize on your own strengths and on those of others.