BYP Young Pro to Know: Mike Hirsch

May 2018

Mike Hirsch, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Hometown:  Washingtonville, NY

Why is your job awesome?
My career is amazing in that every American citizen that meets the minimum qualifications to become a NOAA Corps Officer has the opportunity to do what I do. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Science, an insatiable hunger for adventure and high moral standards, every applicant selected to serve in the NOAA Corps has the potential to sail a 200 foot Research Vessel through the Panama Canal or pilot a WP-3D Orion aircraft through the eye-wall of a Category 5 hurricane, all in the pursuit of better science. Additionally, the diversity in the backgrounds of the men and women that I serve beside is truly astounding, and despite our individual stories, we almost learn to read each other’s thoughts while in the cockpit of our aircraft or navigating one of our numerous ships through a busy port.

Creative writing is my go-to for mental stimulation, although it’ll be a while before you see my face on the jacket of a science-fiction novel. I also moved to Boulder with the plethora of outdoor activities in mind, hence my small collection of mountain bikes and pile of mud-caked hiking shoes.

Favorite beer? 
Living in Colorado, it’s no exaggeration to say that I discover my new favorite beer almost weekly. For the sake of brevity, I’ll say Southern Sun’s Colorado Kind on nitro was my favorite beer on tap until they discontinued it this month. Therefore, the search is ongoing. #mykindofbeer

What’s the first song on your pump up playlist?
I’m admittedly a cheesy guy, so each day before flying in Central Alaska a few years ago we’d preflight to Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins. Hearing that song today brings back memories of rocketing down the south face of Denali and waving to herds of caribou at the base of glaciers (I still have the videos).

You have a time machine that’ll take you to any year, present or future. Where do you go?
I would jump forward to any decade that offers easy, affordable and safe modes of time travel. If granted one wish, you ask for unlimited wishes, right?

Favorite happy hour spot in Boulder: 
My house, 4PM daily. For days that I haven’t had time to visit Pettyjohn’s, Southern Sun has a great atmosphere where I can talk shop with coworkers or plan a Moab excursion with friends. If only they still served this one Kind of beer…

One place in Colorado everyone should visit:
A-Basin on a good beach day. Get there early, pick your spot, and don’t forget your onesie.

Favorite movie:
Surely, you can’t be serious…

What is the best gift you have ever received?:
On my 16th birthday, my parents surprised me with a one hour flight lesson at a grass airstrip on Martha’s Vineyard. Considering how financially conservative my parents are, this was a huge surprise that dramatically altered the course of my life.

If you were 80 years old, what advice would you give your children?:
At the ripe old age of 80 my theoretical children would be 45-50 years old, so they’ll have a good amount of life experience under their belt(s). Therefore, I’d simply tell them to continue doing whatever makes them happy. Also, stop touching the thermostat, and would it kill you to call your parents more often?

If there was a movie made about your life, who would play you and why?
George Clooney’s people have already informed me that he’s not interested, so Ryan Reynold’s wit and extensive experience with stunts will suffice.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in life?
The lesson that I currently value most pertains to how fragile and small our planet is compared to the dreams we each may have for it. As the only species on Earth that can consciously monitor and change the environment, the onus falls on us to improve the circumstances of living for all species, including of course our own.