As COVID-19 became a global threat in early 2020, we needed to rethink our in-person volunteer training strategy. With chapters around the country, going virtual provided an opportunity to take our volunteer leadership trainings online and expand our inland ocean community. The virtual Inland Ocean Ambassador Certification Program brought together 25 Ocean Ambassadors from 12 different states for a four-week intensive training on ocean leadership to further grow the inland ocean network. The inland ocean movement continues to serve as a voice for inland and coastal communities, and we were delighted to share that vision with our Ocean Ambassador cohort.
Content from the four week session included how our stories and memories have shaped our relationship to the ocean and introduced topics like marine protected areas, The Thirty by Thirty Resolution to Save Nature, plastic pollution, the importance of ocean climate action, and how to be proactive in supporting key ocean legislation. We were honored to host prestigious guest speakers Enric Sala from National Geographic Explorer, Amy Kenney from National Ocean Protection Coalition, and Colorado Congressman Joe Neguse. Our Ocean Ambassadors finished the training with the tools and inspiration to be ocean champions in their communities.
We are thrilled to see our Ocean Ambassadors staying active and engaged with our Inland Ocean Coalition community. Since the training, our Ocean Ambassadors have created the IOC’s 16th chapter in Washington, D.C., published two op-eds, with 3 currently in review for publication, joined coalitions, organized cleanups, and will soon begin a cross-country dive adventure to educate and involve communities all over the nation in ocean protection. With a formal graduation set for December, we are eager to share further accomplishments from the first Inland Ocean Ambassador cohort.
If you are interested in joining our Ocean Ambassador Certification Program, please check our website for updates on when applications will open for the next program. We look forward to continuing to grow the inland ocean network with you!