RED Hearts are guest posts on I Heart Daily from the authors of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today.

Today's RED Hearts is from Dani Cox, 21, in Miami, who is letting us in on an acronym that is barely ever used in texting:

I have a very important question (in the acronym category) for you: Do you know what NOAA is? If not—you’re not alone. 

But if you care about the air and water and sea creatures around us, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, is one to know. Particularly if you, like me, are interested in studying—perhaps saving—these most essential resources of ours. 

The government-funded organization deals with all things related to air and water, from giving the public up-to-date hurricane warnings to protecting our valuable and endangered marine life. NOAA also provides employment to a vast number of individuals who deal with legislature, scientific research and public outreach on a daily basis. And, as if that wasn’t enough, NOAA invests a great deal into the future of America. 

This means us, the students who can improve that very future. This means that NOAA has entirely changed the life of at least one oxygen-breathing organism: me.

Recently, I went through the NOAA-funded Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship Program, which provides up to $19,000 in financial aid to individual college undergrads, as well as employs us in amazing nine-week internships across the country. Mine was in in Beaufort, North Carolina, this summer and it showed me not only that I could professionally handle a job in this field, but also that what I do can really go on to make a difference. 

As a result of the NOAA opportunity, I have been accepted to present my research at three national conferences and made connections with leaders in the field who I greatly admire and who, I hope, will help me in my career. 

Alert for the future scientists and politicians of the world: NOAA awards this scholarship to more than 100 college sophomores every year, and the link is live now throughJanuary 29th! 

If you are eligible, or will be soon, I highly encourage you to apply. But no matter what your age or educational interests, check out their offerings—from interactive learning programs to volunteer opportunities, beach cleanups to funding for science-fair projects.

If you love the ocean and the atmosphere around you, NOAA is an ideal way to, uh, immerse yourself.