Legacy Award for Alaska Scientific Support Coordinator
NOV. 20, 2023 — Catherine Berg, retired NOAA Scientific Support Coordinator (SSC) for Alaska, was recently selected as one of four recipients of the 2023 Legacy Awards bestowed by the British Columbia/Pacific States Oil Spill Task Force. Berg was presented with the award at the Annual Meeting of the Oil Spill Task Force on November 16, 2023 in Sacramento, California.
The Task Force is an organization comprising representatives from state and provincial environmental agencies in the Pacific coastal area. Task Force members collect and share data on oil spills, coordinate oil spill prevention projects, and promote regulatory safeguards. Every two years, they solicit nominations for candidates (individuals, teams, and entities) that have carried out exemplary work in the field of oil spill prevention, preparedness, and response. The award serves as the Task Force’s recognition for outstanding work and accomplishments to foster best practices, support and protect communities, and protect the environment.
Berg is a wildlife biologist who joined OR&R’s Emergency Response Division in 2013. As the Alaska SSC, she served as NOAA’s principal technical adviser to the federal on-scene coordinator during oil and hazmat responses. Berg was the lead NOAA SSC for 190 incidents since 2013, and also provided support for many incidents outside of Alaska (e.g., Refugio oil spill in California, the Golden Ray response in Georgia, several hurricanes in the Caribbean, and the Argo in the Great Lakes).
Prior to joining OR&R, Berg worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska for 30 years, serving much of that time in the Environmental Contaminants Division focusing on wildlife response, natural resource damage assessment, and oil spill response issues. On the 24th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster in March 2023—the first oil spill that Catherine responded to—NOAA and the Alaska response community bade farewell to Berg as she retired after 40 years of exemplary federal service.
As U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Leanne Lusk summarized: “Throughout the years, [Berg] was integral in training thousands of Coast Guard members on a myriad of preparedness activities and response tactics. Her efforts made a significant impact on the Coast Guard’s readiness in Alaska and throughout the United States as Coast Guard members transferred to other units with the skills they learned. Ms. Berg truly left her mark on our service and for that, we will be forever grateful.”