Why An Ocean Ambassador Certification Program?

Are you passionate about protecting our ocean and looking to make a difference? We often hear that the ocean is in trouble or that it’s too late to act, but we want to show you that just one person can make a difference.

The Inland Ocean Ambassadors Certification Program is a 5-session, 5-week online training program which prepares individuals in IOC's programs and campaigns, while offering discussion opportunities with top minds in ocean protection. The program also features a 6-month engagement period where ambassadors work directly with IOC staff to raise awareness of ocean protection issues in their own communities. The program is offered three times per year.

Our ocean has never faced such a myriad of serious threats, including overfishing, plastic pollution, offshore oil development, and climate change, but there have also never been more people working to turn things around, and we’ve truthfully never been more hopeful.

While we know that our ocean is in trouble, it’s also not too late to act. According to a major recent scientific review, our ocean can be restored to its previous bountiful state, but only with a redoubling of conservation efforts. We’ve already seen dramatic improvements in many areas. In 2000, less than 1% of our ocean was protected; now it is almost 8%. Many whale, sea lion, and other marine animal populations are increasing and good things are happening because people are more aware and taking action.

A big part of turning things around will include getting more people involved around the country and across the globe, and not just those who live on the coast.


Training Details

The virtual IOA Certification Training is designed to prepare individuals with skills and tools to be active advocates for ocean and watershed health. Over five weeks, Ambassadors from all over the country learn from top ocean advocates, scientists, and policymakers, and network with other Inland Ocean Ambassadors and partner organizations to expand their ocean and water expertise.  Ambassadors gain experience in community engagement and advocacy and get the tools needed to be effective ocean and water champions in their communities.

The training covers plastic pollution, marine protected areas, fisheries management and sustainable seafood, the power of storytelling, how we are Heartwired to love the ocean, and much more. 

We accept applicants who want to be effective ocean and watershed advocates who will be involved and consider joining an existing chapter, starting a new chapter, or engaging within their own communities. This training is designed to be interactive and participants will be expected to engage with the group throughout the five weeks. While many of our regular volunteer opportunities are in-person, this training will also cover ways to get involved virtually during COVID-19. 

Applications for the Spring 2021 cohort are currently closed.

  • Each session is held at 4pm PST - 7pm EST, each Thursday during the training period
  • We will begin accepting applications April 26th, 2021
  • Applications are due by May 28th, 2021
  • Applicants must be 15 years or older to apply

The IOA program asks for a minimum $5 monthly donation during the course of the training. A limited number of scholarships are available; please see the application for more information.

Modules and Training Timeline

Module 1: Course Intro and the Power of Storytelling 

  • Introduction and course overview
  • Guest Speaker: Wallace J Nichols, author of Blue Mind
  • The power of storytelling: how we are Heartwired to love the ocean
  • How the ocean impacts our lives

Module 2: Marine Protected Areas 

  • Guest Speakers: Violet Sage Walker, Northern Chumash Tribe and Sarah Chasis, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Plastic pollution issues and solutions
  • Marine Protected Areas and the 30x30 Resolution to Save Nature
  • How to write an Op-Ed and Letter to the Editor (LTE)

Module 3: Plastic Pollution and Watershed Health 

  • Guest Speakers: Marcus Eriksen, 5Gyres and Seth Watkins, Pinhook Farms
  • Plastic pollution issues and solutions
  • The impact and importance of healthy watersheds
  • Break Free From Plastic and brand audit discussion
  • Event planning and community engagement: how to grow within your community

Module 4: Advocating for a Healthy Ocean 

  • Guest Speakers: Jason Scorse, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey
  • Ocean Climate Action Plan: discussing a blue economy
  • Get to know your House Representatives and Senators
  • Advocating for healthy ocean and watershed policies

Module 5: Supplements and Introduction to Inland Ocean Action Network 

  • Inland Ocean Ambassador Graduation Ceremony


“I liked the topics studied. Real issues, how to address it. Also, the real life opportunities that follow the training. I signed up because I wanted to make a difference in my community. We got together, learned and now it’s time!” – Priscila

“I most liked getting to hear from different speakers and all the resources that were shared with us each week. I also really loved making friends through this process.” – Michelle