March 21, 2022

On-site training to be an Onboard Outreach Officer on JOIDES Resolution

Posted by Laura Guertin

As I type this, I am getting very close to my departure for Expedition 390 on the scientific drill ship JOIDES Resolution. I’ve been sending out email announcements on listervs and to colleagues with information on how to sign up for a virtual ship tour, and I received this as one of my replies:

This looks great! I have two questions:

  • When is a good time to schedule a Zoom talk for my Ocean 101 students spring quarter? 
  • Are you sailing as an Outreach Officer or a different program, and what’s the inside scoop on applying for these positions?

Fortunately, I’ve already blogged about My journey to becoming an Outreach Officer on JOIDES Resolution. This post will share some of the next steps after being accepted to sail – namely, the training provided to prepare for two months of education and communication at sea.

Laura in front of the IODP sign at entrance to driveway

That’s me, standing next to the sign at the entrance of the IODP facility on the campus of Texas A&M University, August 2021

Sharon Cooper (Senior Education and Outreach Officer Director) and Carol Cotterill (Assistant Director, Education and Outreach) are part of the U.S. Science Support Program (USSSP) Office for the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). The two together coordinated the training of Onboard Outreach Officers (what I’ll refer to as OOOs) for multiple upcoming expeditions at once at the JOIDES Resolution Science Operator (JRSO) facility at Texas A&M University. I flew to Texas in August 2021 to meet up with other OOOs sailing on Expeditions 390, 391, 392, and 393 (although these expeditions are in numerical order, this is not the order we are sailing, because of the pandemic causing schedule adjustments).

Reduced scale model of a ship

Model of the JR and other display materials in the lobby of the IODP building

Our cohort of OOOs became very close, very quickly. We were immersed in three days of introductions to the history of scientific ocean drilling, who is on the ship and how the ship operates – and importantly, our role in the mission of USSSP education and outreach. We play an important role in carrying out the evidence-based programming during our expeditions for students, scientists, the general public, policymakers, etc. While at sea, we will be managing the social media content of JOIDES Resolution (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and writing up blog posts for the Expeditions page. We will be running live ship-to-shore events for any school/community group that wants to see the ship and speak to scientists. And the part I’m really excited about – we each get to carry out individual projects based on our particular skills (more on this in a future post!).

Each OOO was able to Zoom with their expedition’s co-chief scientists and project manager/staff scientist to discuss the science objectives and what the co-chiefs would like to see us focus on for our outreach and dissemination. We learned more about the onboard technology available, and we even got to practice walking around the building with an iPad as if we were giving a tour (showing each of us that the coordination would take some more practice to perfect!). A big highlight for me during our training was our time visiting the Gulf Coast Core Repository (blog post with photos).

Group of people standing in a core facility

Present/future OOOs in the chilled core storage area of the Gulf Coast Repository

The training went so quickly, and we left with new colleagues and friends, a wealth of information about scientific ocean drilling that included a 90-page training manual(!), and knowledge that we would be assisting a global audience to learn more about the mysteries locked into the sediment and rock records from the ocean floor. Myself and the other OOOs still message and speak to one another, providing valuable support. It’s exciting to be a part of the community of shipboard educators for JOIDES Resolution, and I can’t wait to join my Expedition 390 community in Cape Town, South Africa (our departure port).

For those interested in signing up for a virtual tour of JOIDES Resolution for their classroom, student club, or community group, visit the Live Video Events Page to check availability on the calendar and for the instructions on how to get on the calendar!