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Ocean Today Program

external link Sant Ocean Hall (Smithsonian Institution)


MEET: Mike Shelby

Information Technology Specialist, NOS Communications and Education Division

I am the project manager for the Ocean Today Kiosk, an educational program that was developed for the Smithsonian Institution’s Sant Ocean Hall and the soon-to-debut Ocean Today Web site, which will provide an online archive of all kiosk stories. The kiosk is currently operational in 17 additional locations around the country and Mexico. I also work behind the scenes in support of the NOS Web infrastructure, handling requests in support of program office Web sites.

Hansje Gold-Krueck


What do you like most about working at NOS?

I like the people around me the most. My colleagues are the best group of people to work with. All are dedicated to and care about their work and the mission of NOS that I find it enjoyable to come to work.

What is the hardest part of your job?

The hardest part of my job is managing expectations, both mine, those of kiosk contributors, and those who have a kiosk in their institutions while at the same time ensuring that those on my team have the adequate resources they need to produce the stories in a timely manner.

What is your educational background?

I have a B.A. in Marine Science from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and a M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from Johns Hopkins University.

What inspired your interest in the ocean and coasts?

My interest in the oceans and coasts came from yearly childhood trips my family would take to the New Jersey shore. I wanted to learn more about what was beneath the water surface, especially when I saw what was washed up on shore. I started looking for schools and programs that offered courses and was lucky to find one at Kutztown University that offered hands-on experience at the Marine Science Consortium at Wallops Island Virginia.

How did you end up working at NOAA?

I have worked at NOAA since August of 1990. I received a call shortly after receiving my undergraduate degree from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. I was asked about a class I had taken in computer cartography and this is how I got my foot in the door. My early days were building maps for a seabird-mapping project, one that tracked seabird colonies in Alaska. From there, I learned how to use ArcInfo and worked on digitizing maps for the 1:2,000,000 U.S. shoreline project.

After this work I moved into supporting and later developing educational interactive CD-based projects using Macromedia Director. This work turned to the budding Internet, where my attention focused on the original State of the Coast Web site. I later managed the Ocean Explorer Web site for almost two years before learning of the opportunity to work on the kiosk project with the Smithsonian’s Natural Museum of Natural History on a piece of their new Sant Ocean Hall exhibit.

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

Don’t let anyone say what you want to do is ‘crazy’ or ‘there is no money in it.’ I heard both of these comments along the way when I was job searching. “You only need money to pay your bills,” is what a neighbor of mine told me as I was growing up. There is more to life than money. Fortunately, I had a great many that told me that I could do anything I wanted to if I put my mind to it. And you know what, they were right!

What do you think is the biggest challenge we face in protecting our ocean and coasts?

The biggest challenge I see is educating our children to care for our ocean and our coasts. I see too much of an ‘I want it now’ attitude in our society, and I feel that this attitude is detracting focus from some of the biggest challenges facing our ocean and coasts. I want to do all I can to change this attitude. Through the Ocean Today Kiosk and the associated Web site, I want to educate both the young and old on issues facing our oceans, leaving them with a better understanding of how their daily lives are affected by the ocean and now what they do on a daily basis affects the ocean.