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NOAA Communications & External Affairs

MEET: John Ewald

Public Affairs Specialist
National Ocean Service

As a public affairs specialist for the National Ocean Service, I serve as the organization's spokesperson to the media on issues related to protecting, managing, and monitoring America's oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes.

John Ewald

NOS Public Affairs Specialist John Ewald (right) and Carrie Sinclair, a marine biologist from NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, survey for dolphins impacted by the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill in Mississippi Sound.

What do you like most about working at NOS?

I like working for an organization that plays such an enormous role in the life of every American, no matter what part of the country they are from. The work done by NOS's scientists and professionals affects us all, from positioning where our buildings are built to safely delivering goods to store shelves, and making breakthroughs and advancements in human and ocean health.

What is the hardest part of your job?

The hardest part of what I do is translating very technical language and scientific concepts into lay terms so that the media, constituents, and the public can fully grasp the NOS mission. However, I also find this can be one of the most rewarding parts of my job, when I succeed in helping the ocean "make sense" to many different people.

What is your educational background?

I graduated from Indiana University, Bloomington, where I obtained my bachelor's degree in telecommunications with a focus in public relations, industry, and management.

What inspired your interest in the ocean and coasts?

My love for the water began at a small lake near Farmland, Indiana, where my family continues to enjoy a cottage. Being from a landlocked state, I didn't have many opportunities to travel to the coast, so what I appreciate now about healthy oceans is rooted in my experiences swimming in the lake's shallow waters, fishing for bass and bluegill, and sleeping to the sound of croaking frogs.

How did you end up working at NOAA?

During college, I had a media relations internship with U.S. Army Public Affairs at the Pentagon. Upon graduation, I returned to the Department of Defense to provide communications support for an initiative that worked to balance the armed services' mission with environmental stewardship. That led to my interest in being a communications specialist for NOAA's Office of Coast Survey, where I helped communicate the value of NOAA's navigation tools to the nation's economy and coastal communities. From there, I moved to my current position, where I communicate to the media and NOAA constituents about all of NOS's programs.

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

Take advantage of any opportunity to really understand why healthy oceans matter and how they affect all of us — economically, ecologically, and culturally. NOS is a good resource for learning more about our oceans and coasts, as are state and local resources and programs.