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Integrated Ocean Observing System

What is IOOS?

podcastWhat is IOOS? Diving Deeper (audio podcast)

MEET: Jennie Lyons

Communications Specialist, NOAA Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®)

I coordinate communications, education, and outreach for IOOS, which is a national partnership of 17 federal agencies, 11 regions, academia, industry, and a cooperative institute called the Alliance for Coastal Technologies.

Jennie Lyons


What do you like most about working at NOS?

My favorite part of my job is that I am able to service two things I care greatly about – the ocean and the American government.  The sense of importance of getting the word out about the critical role our oceans and coasts play in our daily lives – in terms of safety, the economy, and the environment – weighed on me so heavily that I felt called to leave my previous career in television news to come here. Our world’s waters are so important, yet so poorly understood. It is fulfilling to play a role in educating and informing both the public and the government about these things.

What is the hardest part of your job?

IOOS strives to enhance people’s ability to collect, deliver, and use ocean information. The IOOS program delivers data and information to increase understanding of our oceans and coasts, so that decision makers can take action to improve safety, enhance the economy, and protect the environment. Coordinating input and sharing information among all of the partners can be a challenge, but it is also a good learning experience.

What is your educational background?

I have two undergraduate degrees: one in broadcast journalism and the other in government and politics.

What inspired your interest in the ocean and coasts?

My love for the water began when I was a small child on the swim team. I lived at the pool in the summer. When I got older, I took up scuba diving. That deepened my love of the water, but also opened my eyes to the concerns of climate change, pollution, overfishing, and various other threats to the natural beauty of the water and its creatures.

How did you end up working at NOAA?

After graduating from college, I worked at a few TV news stations and ended up as a producer and writer for NBC in Washington, DC. One of my duties there included producing a weekly show that focused on softer news stories, such as science, health, and environmental segments. It also included a regular “Going Green” segment that took my budding concern for water conservation to a higher level. That’s when I realized I had to do something more than I was already doing. I wanted to make it my career to talk about the oceans and the climate. It took a while to get an interview at NOAA, but I finally got here, and I’m happy to be here.

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

Follow your instincts. Servicing the interests of our waters does not mean you have to go into marine biology, if science is not your thing. There are a wide variety of ways to work on this issue. Learn about yourself and how you work best. Then look for ways you could serve the ocean community. You can be a secretary, a researcher, a communicator, a manager, a mathematician – business and government need people in all of these positions. Doing something you are passionate about is critical. Even when I have a bad day, I can take a step back and say, “I do this because I care, and because it’s important.”