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Michael Ball in front of a small boat LTJG Michael Ball beside one of the small boats used in protected species research at the Woods Hole Laboratory. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries/Shelley Dawicki, NEFSC

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May 19, 2017
Contact: Shelley Dawicki

NOAA Corps 100th Anniversary

LTJG Michael J. Ball

"It has taught me patience, attention to detail, the importance of documentation and good communication."

Michael J. Ball grew up in New England and graduated from the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science in Marine and Freshwater Biology. He became interested in fisheries while participating in cooperative research tagging programs while at UNH.  After graduation, he served as an observer, observer trainer, and as the trawl and long line gear training expert for the Northeast Fisheries Observer Program (NEFOP), completing approximately 70 days at sea annually between 2007 and 2013 on board commercial fishing vessels in the Northeast.

Prior to joining NOAA Corps in 2013, Ball was the program coordinator for the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC)’s Northeast Cooperative Research Study Fleet. The Study Fleet is a commercial fisheries research program that collects high quality, self-reported data on board commercial fishing vessels, such as fishing effort, area fished, gear characteristics, catch, and biological obseervations.  Ball is a NAUI certified Master Diver and an Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA) Safety Drill Instructor, and is continuing his training as a NOAA diver.  He also holds Firefighter I & II certifications from the New Hampshire Fire Academy.

Now a Lietuentant Junior Grade (LTJG), he is serving in a position split between Port Operations Manager for OMAO's Northeast Marine Support Facility, and Operations Specialist for the NEFSC’s Protected Species Branch.

How did you learn about the NOAA Corps and what attracted you to it?

When I was a contractor for NEFSC. I was attracted by the opportunity to operate ships, travel, promotion potential, and work in a variety of jobs.

Where have you been stationed and for how long during your time in the corps?

In Hawaii on the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette for 2 years, and in Woods Hole for 1.5 years.

What do you most like or enjoy about being in the NOAA Corps?

Dynamic working environment, seeing interesting places, and operating ships.

What have been the biggest challenges you have faced?

There is a steep learning curve aboard our ships. The first sea tour is especially difficult given the work load, and learning the operations needed to carry out our missions.

What are common questions people ask you about your job?

Do you like it? How is it to relocated every few years?

If you are active, do you think you will stay in the NOAA Corps until you retire?

Yes.

How has your experience in the NOAA Corps helped you in your role at the NEFSC, and the kinds of positions you have held?

It has taught me patience, attention to detail, the importance of documentation, and the importance of good communication and the proper use of your chain of command.

What is the best advice you can give to someone thinking about the NOAA Corps as a career option?

It's worth it!

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