You might be wondering why there is an “Ocean Coalition” in Colorado, and furthermore why they are spouting out newly trained “Ocean Ambassadors” armed with the knowledge and skills to go out into the community to address “ocean issues.” I know that sea level rise is problem, but Colorado isn’t exactly ocean-front property yet…
What is the Colorado Ocean Coalition?
The mission of the Colorado Ocean Coalition (COCO) is to create, unite and empower Colorado with shared values, goals and actions to promote healthy oceans through education and community engagement. In a formal resolution, Assembly member Mark Stones from Monterey, CA recognizes Colorado Ocean Coalition, Boulder City and County as the First Inland Ocean Community in the United States. NOAA’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary co-sponsored the resolution.
Sounds great, but why do we care about addressing ocean issues in Colorado?
We are a connected planet. We can still impact the ocean- even from a mile high. There are many reasons we Coloradans should care about the ocean but as The Nature Conservancy points out, there are 5 pretty big ones:
1) The air we breathe
2) The food on our plate
3) The items in our medicine cabinet
4) Jobs and the economy
5) It’s a shared resource.
So what are we doing about it?
The Colorado Ocean Coalition (COCO) has many community initiatives including the successful Making WAVESevent, and a new coalition called “Blue the Dive Industry”. The newest part of COCO is the inaugural class of the Ocean Ambassadors program. Through 30 hours of training, Ocean Ambassadors (OAs) are empowered with information such as, problems and solutions regarding marine conservation, plastic and other pollution issues, watershed health, marine sanctuary protection and legislation, how to best utilize social media, the art of public speaking, and much more. As part of their commitment to the OA Program and COCO, each certified Ocean Ambassadors will launch into the community to fulfill 50 hours of volunteer work on a volunteer outreach project of their choosing.
And that’s where I come in.
My name is Emily, and I moved to Colorado from the east coast in November, 2013. As a recent OA graduate, I’m using my volunteer hours to help bring COCO to the community through this blog, and I am so excited to take a step back today to introduce you to one of our amazing OAs. The Ocean Ambassador class of 2014 are starting on some amazing work in our community already, so check back to the OA blog for write ups about their progress.
MEET DANNI WASHINGTON: Ocean Ambassador
I “sat down” with Danni over e-mail to pick her brain about COCO:
1) How did you find out about COCO?
“Ocean GEMS producer, Beth Davidow, saw a post about the Ocean Ambassador Program a couple days before the application deadline. Together we got all of the materials compiled and submitted the application. Beth has been watching the progress of COCO over the last year and was very impressed by the work that has been done so far. Ocean GEMS sponsored my way to participate as the only out-of-state ambassador.” (Danni lived in Los Angeles at the time of the OA Program- and is currently traveling.)
2) Describe your OA project.
“In an effort to engage more teenagers in the conversation about ocean issues, I will be initiating a social media campaign via Instagram to engage this specific audience. It will focus on inspiring teens to express what they love about the ocean and how they will do their part to protect it through their Instagram accounts. Similar to a sweepstakes, a winner and runner-up will be randomly chosen to receive special prizes. All of the teen responses will be collected and strategically curated to share with congress on Capitol Hill and the White House Administration during Blue Vision Week in May 2015.”
3) How is it going so far?
“[I am] currently building the infrastructure to promote the campaign and promotional materials. I am also developing strategic partners to align with the campaign and determine prizes for teen winners.”
4) What are your next steps?
“Finalize all campaign materials via Photoshop with help of graphic designers, record short promotional video, draft press release and launch campaign [in] late September.”
5) Do you have any links for people or information about the project online yet?
“Currently www.ocean-gems.org is the best website. New pages will be posted within the Ocean GEMS website [soon].”
Thanks Danni for the information! We look forward to seeing more soon. Come back to the COCO blog next week for more Ocean Ambassador projects and COCO events.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Emily received her M.S. in Natural Resources Management: Integrated Coastal Ecosystem Science, Policy, and Management from the University of New Hampshire’s TIDES program in May 2013. Her training in the TIDES program was interdisciplinary and focused on linking science to decision-making in coastal resource management issues. Currently living in Boulder, Emily conducts social science research for the National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative and is the Program Manager for a local non-profit environmental group.[/author_info] [/author]