Sanctuary Staff Feature: Jennifer Stock

Follow Your Bliss

By Jennifer Stock

March 2017

Jenny Stock teaching 4th graders  on an Every Kid in a Park field tripat Bodega Head
NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries education and outreach coordinator Jennifer Stock teaches a class of 4th graders on an Every Kid in a Park field trip about the nearby Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries at Bodega Head. Photo: Jazzy Dingler/Stewards of Coast and Redwoods

I grew up on Long Island, where the Great South Bay, Long Island Sound, and Atlantic Ocean were my playground. The time my family spent with me there shaped my deep love for salt water. The changing tides, the height of the waves and water level, the grain of the pebbly sand, the late afternoon sunburns and sunsets are in my blood. My early years playing as a kid fueled my curiosity about the natural world and led me on my path to become an education coordinator for NOAA's Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

I was inspired by my early years as an interpretive ranger at Fire Island and Assateague Island national seashores to keep sharing my curiosity and love for our blue planet. Then, landing in the west, I taught at a camp on California's Catalina Island. When I wasn't teaching hands-on marine science, I was exploring with my fellow ocean-loving colleagues to experience as much as possible in this island-living situation. The thrill of witnessing flying fish at night, swimming in bioluminescence, diving through kelp, and so much more deepened my connection to and love for the ocean.

Jenny Stock at a podium giving a presentation
Jennifer introduces an evening oral history panel discussion highlighting the early explorers of Cordell Bank. Photo: Paul Hara/Cordell Expeditions

I never thought in a million years I could follow my bliss and land in a career that serves both our nation and my personal deep passion and interests. With my education, my deep commitment to sharing my love for science and nature, and varied teaching experiences in the federal government and non-profit sector, I am so incredibly fortunate to have landed with NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. Here, I'm able to share the many ocean wonders with numerous audiences, inspiring ocean awareness and building others' love for the ocean through our amazing national marine sanctuaries. NOAA's commitment to science and environmental education is inspiring and fuels my efforts.

While my sanctuary, Cordell Bank, is a bit hard to get to (being entirely offshore), I get to recreate weekly in our neighbor/sister sanctuary Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. My family gets a major reset every time we visit the beach or get out on our wherry rowboat on Tomales Bay. We all chill out, get excited at wildlife sightings throughout the seasons, and revel in the wild beauty of the California coast.

 a rocky, deep-sea habitat that teems with colorful invertebrates, algae, and fishes
The offshore Cordell Bank Nationsal Marine Sanctuary protects a rocky, deep-sea habitat that teems with colorful invertebrates, algae, and fishes. Photo: Joe Hoyt/NOAA

They say the salt gets in your veins and it's true: I have followed salt water for my entire life and have been so incredibly thankful to follow my passion for sharing knowledge while continually learning. The ocean has inspired me and nurtured me. I physically hurt when tragedy strikes and we witness death to precious animals or see oil streak the water's surface. I am fascinated by the ocean's dynamic state; I am heartened by the incredible people I meet along the way taking personal action to help sustain this blue marble. I am committed to inspiring others and delight in the opportunity to share something new about the ocean with others.

Jennifer Stock is the education and outreach coordinator at Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary.