NOAA’s Commitment to Education Fosters New Generation of Stewards

Here is a message from  Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator.

It’s that time of year again: the stockpiling of school supplies, the search for the perfect backpack, the frenzy for new school clothes. After more than 30 years of teaching, I know well the anticipation of going back to school that punctuate the remaining days of summer.

How we educate our students, and what they choose to study, has never been more important. We need a diverse, world-class workforce with the scientific and technical skills to deliver innovative solutions for the nation's mounting challenges — growing a vibrant economy, managing our natural resources sustainably, and adapting to a climate changed world.

President Obama has stated that the progress and prosperity of future generations will depend on what we do now to educate the next generation. The administration is committed to re-establishing U.S. leadership and achievement in STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — and NOAA is playing a key role in this effort.

NOAA’s Education Strategic Plan, developed by the agency’s Education Council, is focused squarely on two critical goals: promoting environmental literacy and workforce development.

Environmental Literacy

An environmentally literate public has a fundamental understanding of the natural world and our intimate connection to it and makes informed decisions about how to manage resources.

NOAA has developed many formal and informal educational opportunities aimed at transforming our citizens into resolute stewards of the environment. For example, NOAA’s B-WET Program (Bay Watershed Education and Training) supports enriching, hands-on educational activities for grades K–12 through partnership with other federal agencies, aquariums, marine labs and environmental organizations.

NOAA’s new partnership with the Exploratorium, a state-of-the-art, hands-on science center, will educate and engage the public on the wonders of cutting-edge scientific discovery with a special focus on ocean exploration — the last frontier — through live presentations and multimedia feeds from “America’s ship for ocean exploration,” NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer.

Workforce Development

Our goal for workforce development prescribes a future workforce that reflects the diversity of the nation and that is highly skilled in STEM.

Through the Educational Partnership Program (EPP) and the Nancy Foster Program, we foster the formal educational needs and untapped potential of women and minorities who have long been under-represented in science and technology fields. The Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program supports undergraduate training in oceanic and atmospheric sciences, and connects students to professional opportunities in ocean, coastal, Great Lakes, weather and climate sciences, science education, engineering and maritime technology.

In his speech to the National Academy of Sciences in April, President Obama reminded us that “scientific discovery takes far more than the occasional flash of brilliance … Usually it takes time, hard work, patience … Often, it requires the support of nation.” I’m proud that NOAA is poised to support the president’s commitment to science education and enhance Americans’ understanding of and appreciation for our natural world.

For more information about NOAA’s full offering of workforce development and public literacy programs, including a complete list of NOAA scholarship opportunities, please visit


Dr. Jane Lubchenco
Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator

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