To create an inland movement that builds land to sea stewardship
The Inland Ocean Coalition’s unifying charge is to develop a two-way relationship with the ocean and water. Those who live among mountains, rivers, and inland cities have a direct impact on the cycles of life in the ocean. As the nation's first Inland Ocean Movement, our goal is to be a wellspring for literacy and community engagement across North America.
For citizens and communities to take an active role in improving the impacts and relationships between the inland, the coastal, and the ocean
Inland states should have a voice in ocean protection, since what we do inland has a direct impact on the sea. Think about what we eat, the energy we use, and how we take care of our streams and creeks, which all lead downstream to the ocean. Advocates are working with the Inland Ocean Coalition to start their own inland ocean Chapters around the county and in Canada. In Illinois, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Michigan, and Manitoba, affiliates are engaging inland communities and strengthening the Coalition to encourage activism around ocean and watershed conservation.
The Colorado Ocean Coalition (COCO) was founded in 2011 with the goal of inspiring and empowering Colorado citizens to promote healthy oceans, through education and community involvement. COCO has held three major regional conferences on ocean protection, called Making WAVES, sponsors a monthly Blue Drinks, launched the Ocean Ambassadors Certification and Ocean Rangers programs, and co-developed the initiative Blue The Dive. We have garnered recognition, involvement, and support from luminaries in the ocean protection movement—people like Dr. Sylvia Earle, Marine Researcher In-Residence at the National Geographic Society; Jean-Michel Cousteau, Founder of the Ocean Futures Society; and Dan Basta, former Director of the U. S. National Marine Sanctuary System.
In 2009, after a family move to landlocked Boulder, CO, Vicki started looking for organizations that had an inland ocean focus. To her surprise, there were none. She did, however, discover that Colorado had more scuba divers per capital than any state in the nation. She consulted with colleagues and found inspiration in their support for a new initiative, an Inland Ocean Movement. In 2011, she formalized the idea and the Colorado Ocean Coalition (COCO) became a project under the fiscal sponsorship of The Ocean Foundation.
One of Vicki’s first steps was to lead a delegation of Coloradans to Washington, D.C. for the biennial Blue Vision Summit in 2011. COCO was applauded for bringing ocean issues to the heartland. We continue to inspire inland people and communities to become committed and united stewards of our ocean through advocacy, events, programs, outreach, and education.
The exciting work COCO is doing with the Ocean Chapters has lead us to a new perspective: we need to scale up our efforts and create robust goals for productive engagement with communities around water and the ocean throughout North America. The Inland Ocean Coalition will leverage the Colorado Ocean Coalition’s sustained initiatives over the past five years to build an inland movement through programs, educational experiences, and community partnerships that:
- Ignite community engagement in the mountain states and the heartland
- Support and enhance key legislative efforts
- Facilitate learning partnerships
- Create cultural shifts through education
- Empower youth by facilitating inclusion
- Strengthen local capacity to implement watershed approaches
Our single most important and ambitious goal is to expand our network of Inland Ocean Chapters. By scaling the growth of Chapters and establishing standards and practices for them to succeed, the Inland Ocean Coalition adheres to three core goals:
- Unite inland communities to educate and enhance knowledge
- Facilitate community building via local chapters
- Break into new audiences that have not yet had the opportunity to learn about oceans and water
The growth of the Inland Ocean Coalition will support many more people to engage in land to sea stewardship. Our work provides opportunities for inland communities to tap into their interest and love for water and the ocean.