Flying Fish

Government Shutdowns Impact More than Pay Day
by Nicole Carlozo -- October 3rd, 2013

I’ve written about this topic before, but with the government shutdown this week, I felt the need to touch on fiscal uncertainty once again.

Although I am a NOAA Fellow, my funds are paid through a contractor and I work within a state office (a complex situation that I think is becoming more of the norm nowadays). So in the end, I didn’t expect to be impacted by the federal shutdown this week. Alas, my Tuesday morning inbox greeted me with message after message from colleagues about their unavailability. I tried logging into the Maryland Assessment Scenario Tool website to continue my nutrient loading analyses, only to find that the server (hosted by the EPA) was down. I received notification from the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation about extending the federal employee registration deadline for their upcoming conference. And when trying to drop a training that I signed up for, I found that the person in charge of registration was out on furlough.

This dilemma led me to reflect on why I wanted to work in state government in the first place. Ironically, it had something to do with acting on good intentions within a local sphere. But I’m finding that local actions can be limited by federal factors.

Reflecting on “Why”

I’ve worked in many sectors throughout my short career. I began in academia, which seemed like a natural fit at the time. Searching for a position with creative outlets, I moved on to the non-profit world. And then, yearning to advance my skills sets, I returned to school in pursuit of a graduate degree. Now, to the surprise of my friends and family (who have always urged me towards writing or college-level teaching), I find myself immersed in state government. My love of learning/research and my awe of the passion filled non-profit community will always remain. Every now and again, I may toy with the idea of a PhD or taking a year off to write. But for now, I’ve chosen a different career path then what was expected of me.

Why environmental management, you ask?

  • Balance. I found a nice little niche that allows me to read, write, synthesize, analyze, and communicate on a daily basis. All the while, I’m learning.

Why the government, you ask?

  • Action. Sometimes it seems like change is impossible (especially with federal shutdowns, wavering political parties, and all of the other obstacles that I’m sure could fill up this entire blog entry). But in the end, it is policy/management that leads to widespread action.

Why state government, you ask?

  • Locality. It may be selfish, but I want to address coastal issues somewhere that means something to me. And since each state is different in the way they do business, working at the state level has allowed me to gain a more complete understanding of the biophysical, economic, and political issues that coastal managers must maneuver in my home state.

Balance, Action, and Locality. That about sums it up. And thus far, two out of three are impacted by the federal shutdown. There may be a lesson here in blurred boundaries and interconnection!

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