Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Nervous Anticipation

The following is part two of a multi-part series to run over the next few months. Melissa Baffa, Director of Outdoor Experience and STEM for GSCCC, will be joining the Corps of Exploration this year on the adventure of a lifetime. This blog series will chronicle her dive into the Unknown.

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It was early January. I had submitted my application to the Ocean Exploration Trust to join the Corps of Exploration for the 2015 Science Communication Fellowship program back in mid-December. The email should come any day whether I had cleared the first round of selection, and whether I would be participating in an online face-to-face interview within the next couple of weeks.
Only my family and a few close friends and work mates knew that I had applied for this very exciting, and somewhat intimidating, opportunity. I was on pins and needles. But in way, I was thankful that the opportunity had crossed my desk only days before the deadline – that meant I’d had to remain in this state of anxious anticipation for a much shorter time. One of the ways I passed the time was by poking around on the Nautilus Live website, enjoying the photos and videos posted from previous seasons.

Still, the anticipation was killing me!
In a photograph from the 2014 season, a "dumbo octopus," so named for the earlike projections on either side of its mantle, gets up close and personal during a deep-sea dive.
And then I got the email – I had made it through the first round! The first call was to my husband, the second to my mother, and the third to my supervisor. All were thrilled for me, and also a little anxious themselves as the reality started to settle in. How long would I be gone? What would the implications be for our family? How soon would we know for sure, so we could start making plans for work?
Insomnia hit me with full force. In the days leading up to the interview, I was so excited, I couldn’t get my brain to turn off at night. I didn’t know what to expect. I ran through possible questions in my head.
And then it was The Day. Because a continent separated us, it was an online interview.  The OET panel members were all smiles. Once the initial adrenaline rush wore off and I settled into the interview, it all just seemed to flow. We wrapped it up, and I knew in my heart it couldn’t have gone much better.
They told me it was going to be a couple of weeks before they announced their final choices. One day passed, then two. I couldn’t sleep. I would toss and turn at night for hours before I finally drifted off. Six days in, my eyes felt grainy and my head a little fuzzy. I started soliciting advice from friends and family – how could I push through this insomnia?

Twelve days after the interview, shortly after lunch, the email came in. I was all alone in my office; it was very quiet, but all I could hear was my heart pounding in my ears. The subject line only read, “2015 Science Communication Fellowship” – I would have no idea whether I was accepted until I opened it. I willed my suddenly-paralyzed fingers to push the mouse button. Funny how something I didn’t even know I wanted so badly only five weeks ago now had this incredible power over me.
I held my breath. One heartbeat, two. And then I clicked. Congratulations!” the email began, “It is my distinct pleasure to inform you that the SCF Selection Committee would like to offer you a spot in this year's Science Communication Fellowship.”

Now It’s Your Turn: When was the last time you had something really big you were looking forward to? How did it affect you? Please share by leaving a comment below!

Skip to the next blog post by Melissa: Insomnia

Thursday, April 16, 2015

An Opportunity Arises

The following is the beginning of a multi-part series to run over the next few months. Melissa Baffa, Director of Outdoor Experience and STEM for GSCCC, will be joining the Corps of Exploration this year on the adventure of a lifetime. This blog series will chronicle her dive into the Unknown.

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Do you remember the first time you went to an amusement park? Do you recall that itchy, squirmy feeling as you anticipated the adventure, the way you struggled to fall asleep the night before your trip? I know this feeling well – I have lived in various states of it since January of this year, and it’s getting worse.

It started in December, when an email hit my inbox. Forwarded from our CEO to my supervisor to me, it outlined an exciting marine education program. The paragraph on internships had caught her eye, but when I read it more carefully, I realized the internship didn’t relate to the program she was interested in. I told her as much and asked, “What do you think about me applying for the fellowship described here?” The craziest part was, the deadline was in two days, and the following day was her last before the holidays, when she would go out on PTO. So if I was going to pursue this, it had to be NOW.

Thankfully, our senior leadership at Girl Scouts was enthusiastically on board. An intense period of wrangling application materials, including letters of recommendation, ensued, and once I had everything together, I paused, held my breath, and hit Send.

The thing I was applying for, truth be told, was more than a little scary. I would be serving in a communications capacity for the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) as a part of the 2015 expedition aboard the E/V Nautilus. My stint aboard the ship could be anywhere from 1-3 weeks. I would be away from my family, with potentially thousands of miles between us. The ship would be exploring the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern Pacific Ocean. 
Scientists around the world had submitted suggestions for exploration sites, called “white papers,” in which they made their pitch for the sites they thought the Nautilus should explore. The possibilities dazzled me – bioluminescence, shipwrecks, undersea volcanoes, and hydrothermal vents! As a scientist and a former teacher, the possibilities got my heart thumping. These are the same stories I used to weave in my classroom, the same phenomena that inspired open-mouthed wonder in my students...could I really be so fortunate to be selected?

I would need to wait a few weeks to hear back from the OET. In the meantime, the holidays were a happy distraction. The application was in, and all I could do now was to wait.

Now It's Your Turn: Have you applied for something, or tried something new that was scary for you? What was it? What did you get out of the experience? Share your experience by leaving a comment below!

Skip to the next blog post by Melissa: Nervous Anticipation

Friday, April 3, 2015

Explore the Ocean Live this Spring

Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast has announced that Melissa Baffa, Director of Outdoor Experience and STEM, has been selected by Ocean Exploration Trust as one of twenty-two Science Communication Fellows from across the United States and around the world for the 2015 season to explore the Eastern Pacific Ocean aboard the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus an ocean-class ship specially outfitted for seafloor discovery.

Baffa will join the expedition for its second major leg, transiting through the Panama Canal as the ship enters the Pacific Ocean for the first time, and then sailing to the Galapagos Islands. Her portion of the expedition will take place May 29-June 19.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join the 2015 Corps of Exploration,” says Baffa. “Having a chance to share the amazing wildlife, geological features, and archaeological sites that E/V Nautilus explores, and to highlight the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers that make it all possible is a dream come true, and an incredible program addition for Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast.”
Baffa will not only participate in live audio commentary and question-and-answer sessions through the Nautilus Live website ( while aboard the ship; she will also develop events and activities upon her return. Global audiences can tune in to the website, Facebook or Instagram at NautilusLive, and on Twitter @EVNautilus to follow Baffa's expedition. Newly developed STEM activities will benefit thousands of current Girl Scout members, as well as potential new members. Baffa will collaborate with institutions and program partners up and down the California coast to develop programming that will introduce public audiences to the Nautilus Exploration Program as well.

For information on the program, contact:

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Register for Annual Meeting - April 25

Meet the new Board of Directors, learn what's new for the council in 2015, and network with other leaders, staff, National Delegates, and more. You will enjoy an evening of good food, and as always, special Girl Scout surprises. Ruth Pollack will receive her 50-Year Recognition, and other awards will be distributed during the program.

GSCCC 2015 Annual Meeting

Saturday, April 25
5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Madonna Inn Garden Room
San Luis Obispo

Dinner, Business Meeting, Program
Registration Deadline - April 15
All non-voting members, please register through EBIZ online. Cost of dinner is $30. 

Board Members, Board Development Committee Members, Strategic Learning Team, Staff and special guests, RSVP to Debra DiIanni by April 15 with Annual Meeting in the Subject: