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 the inland. 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 individuals and communities to take an active role in improving the impacts and relationships between the inland, the coasts, 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 work with the Inland Ocean Coalition on issues of local and national importance through their own inland ocean chapters. In Illinois, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Michigan, Buffalo, NY and Manitoba, Canada, affiliates are engaging inland communities and strengthening the Coalition to encourage activism around ocean and watershed conservation.
The Inland Ocean Coalition began as the Colorado Ocean Coalition (COCO) in 2011. Founded by Vicki Nichols Goldstein after a family move to landlocked Boulder, CO in 2009, the Coalition’s aim was to inspire and empower Colorado citizens to promote the health of our ocean through education and community involvement.
Having spent most of her life working to protect our ocean, Vicki started looking for organizations in Colorado that had an inland ocean focus. To her surprise, there were none. 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 became a project under the fiscal sponsorship of The Ocean Foundation.
One of the organization's first steps was to lead a delegation of Coloradans to Washington, D.C. for the biennial Blue Vision Summit in 2011, where COCO was applauded for bringing ocean issues to the heartland. The Colorado Ocean Coalition has since 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 initiatives like Blue The Dive and Suck the Straws Out. The movement has garnered support and recognition from luminaries in the ocean conservation 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.
Since the formation of the Colorado Ocean Coalition in 2011, communities across the country have been inspired to replicate the programs that began in Boulder, Colorado. Apart from Colorado, current chapters include the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, Great Lakes in Michigan, Illinois, Utah, Buffalo, NY, Prairie in Manitoba, Canada, and University chapters at the University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
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 Inland Ocean Coalition has scaled up its efforts and created robust goals for productive engagement with communities around water and the ocean throughout North America. The Inland Ocean Coalition leverages 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 around ocean and water issues
- Facilitate learning networks through our collaborative partnerships
- Support and enhance key legislative efforts at local, state, and national levels
- Create cultural shifts that encourage environmentally friendly attitudes and actions
- Empower youth through education and outreach
- Strengthen local capacity to implement sound watershed approaches
In scaling the growth of Chapters and establishing best practices, the Inland Ocean Coalition adheres to three core goals:
- Unite inland communities to educate and enhance knowledge of land-to-sea stewardship issues and solutions
- Facilitate community building through education, action, and involvement via local chapters
- Reach new audiences with the importance of our land-to-sea connection and the easy ways that people can get involved in protecting our ocean and waterways
The growth of the Inland Ocean Coalition supports our mission of building of an inland ocean movement that builds land-to-sea stewardship. Our programs provide opportunities for inland communities to tap into their interest and love for water and the ocean.
Equity, Inclusion, and Justice
As our watersheds and ocean are increasingly threatened by human behavior, marginalized populations are at greater risk of not having access to clean water, losing their livelihoods and lands to mining and overfishing, and face severe health impacts due to a degrading environment. With this knowledge, the Inland Ocean Coalition is committed to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity initiatives across our organization, in order to better serve at-risk communities, protect our ocean, and build a stronger, more inclusive inland ocean movement.
The Inland Ocean Coalition has identified environmental justice as a core value, as environmental change impacts marginalized populations disproportionately. We are committed to the meaningful inclusion of all people when it comes to protecting our ocean, and each member of our small yet mighty staff is committed to building and sustaining an inclusive and equitable work environment that celebrates and values diversity.
The Inland Ocean Coalition believes that we cannot continue our work of conserving our wondrous blue planet without the inclusion and amplification of voices and experiences that differ from our own. We are excited to work towards a future that eliminates the colonialism, racism, inequity, and exclusion that has plagued the environmental movement and its institutions of power.