Melissa Baffa, Girl Scouts of California's Central Coast Director of Outdoor Experience and STEM, named 2015 Science Communication Fellow

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Exploration of Eastern Pacific Ocean aboard E/V Nautilus to benefit girls sharing mission discoveries, introducing global STEM role models

Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast today 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.

The Science Communication Fellowship Program, an initiative of the Ocean Exploration Trust, brings formal and informal educators together from around the world as a part of the Nautilus Corps of Exploration. Fellows are charged with the responsibility of engaging students and the public in the wonders of ocean exploration, and sharing discoveries from the 2015 mission, as well as aspects of daily life aboard a real working exploration vessel. Fellows will receive four days of intensive training at the organization’s headquarters in Rhode Island, and will spend from one to three weeks aboard Nautilus between the months of April and October, as it explores the Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Pacific Ocean.

“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.

Echoing Baffa’s sentiment is Gina Jaeger, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast, “We are excited that Melissa was selected for this impressive opportunity. Her ability to take complicated scientific material and tailor it for a specific audience, along with the knowledge and experience she will gain through this Fellowship will allow the council to expand STEM programming that is uniquely suited for girls along the Central Coast.”

“I am passionate about leadership development, and am most excited about the chance to inspire girls to pursue careers in STEM-related fields. According to recent findings by Girl Scouts of the USA, growth in STEM jobs has outpaced others 3-to-1 over the past decade, and women are completely underrepresented in this sector. Women account for only twenty-four percent of the workforce in STEM-related fields. We know that in order to increase the number of women entering these rapidly-growing fields, we need to encourage girls at an early age to pursue their interests. It is my hope that the excitement of discovery inspires girls to explore STEM career paths.”

Baffa is a former science educator and has held positions as a research associate, and nonprofit executive director in the Ventura County area before joining Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast as Director of Outdoor Experience and STEM.

About the Ocean Exploration Trust
The Ocean Exploration Trust was founded in 2008 by Dr. Robert Ballard. Our international program centers on scientific exploration of the seafloor launched from aboard the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus, a 64-meter research vessel currently based in the Caribbean Sea. In addition to conducting scientific exploration, the Nautilus Exploration Program offers telepresence to explorers on shore and the public via live video, audio, and data feeds. The program also includes an education component that brings educators and students on oceanographic expeditions. The 2015 expedition sponsors are the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Bechtel, the Viola and Panthers Foundations, Alcoa Foundation, Office of Naval Research, the National Geographic Society, University of Rhode Island, and additional private donors. Follow us online at, on Facebook and Instagram at NautilusLive, and on Twitter as @EVNautilus.

Girl Scouts of California's Central Coast serves over 10,700 girls across six counties and is committed to making Girl Scouting available to girls in ways that impact their lives both in the moment and into the future. Girls participate in troops, individual projects, council events, day camps, and more. A variety of leadership, outdoor skills, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) based programs and events provide girls with opportunities to learn and explore in fun and informative ways. To join or volunteer in Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara or Ventura County, visit:

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