rachel plunkett professional headshot and a photo of her scuba diving in tropical waters with an underwater camera

Rachel Plunkett | Writer/Editor

NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

What does a typical day look like for you?

My day starts with checking my email, tasks, and meeting schedule. I collaborate with colleagues at headquarters, as well as from all 15 national marine sanctuaries on projects, so staying organized and on top of deadlines is key. I manage our web story calendar—planning, writing, and editing stories for our news page, work with the web team to coordinate site redesigns, and assist with html web coding as needed. I also copy edit reports and outreach products, and write content for our yearly Earth is Blue magazine and external publications. Another aspect involves attending rollout plan meetings, and campaign planning meetings such as for our 50th Anniversary.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

Our team takes the incredible work being done throughout the National Marine Sanctuary System and puts it out there for the public, stakeholders, and policymakers to see. We get to tell the stories of the people who protect these captivating underwater places—the scientists, conservationists, local fishers, volunteers, Indigenous peoples, historians—they keep these places alive for all to enjoy now and in the future.

What if any challenges have you faced as a woman in an ocean-related career?

While working as a scientific diver, I faced some struggles as a petite woman. As the newbie on a dive team, you’re usually the one to load and offload tanks and equipment from the boat, retrieve lift bags, lift the anchor, etc. I wanted to prove that I could do all of this just like the guys without asking for help, but now I realize that being a smaller woman does not mean I am less valuable to the team. My data collection and dive skills made up for those areas.

What is one piece of advice you would share with someone who might be thinking of pursuing your career path?

Diversify your skillset as much as possible. Having a background in science and writing about complex topics in plain language for diverse audiences are important basics. Take it a step further and obtain certifications in marketing, web design, photography, etc.