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 Ambassador Training Program is a 5-session, 5-week online program offered twice per year that prepares individuals to take action to protect our ocean and waterways.

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.



The virtual IOA Training Program is designed to prepare individuals with the skills and tools to be powerful 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 watershed health, plastic pollution, the ocean as a solution to climate change, 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 and be actively involved in our Inland Ocean Network. This training is designed to be interactive and participants will be expected to engage with the group throughout the five weeks. 



After completion of the Inland Ocean Ambassador Training Program, participants will become members of the Inland Ocean Network (ION). ION is a network of Ambassadors spanning across the nation and serves as a hub for ocean protection initiatives, problems, solutions, and calls to action. Through ION, Ambassadors have access to engagement activities including call-in days, nationwide cleanup days, campaign involvement, and more.. ION provides resources, forms relationships, connects members, and catalyzes movement actions to create a more just and equitable representation of the inland ocean movement. 

Since the ocean is not only a coastal issue, ION will grow the involvement of inland communities, unite inland and coastal communities, and grow the actions and measures taken to protect and restore our ocean.

US Ambassador Map

World Ambassador Map

US states and countries represented by Inland Ocean Ambassadors

Ocean Ambassadors Trained
US States Represented
Countries Represented


Module 1: Course Intro and the Power of Storytelling (March 2nd, 2023)

  • 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: Getting Involved, with an Emphasis on Plastic Pollution (March 9th, 2023)

  • Guest Speaker: Dr. Lisa Erdle from 5 Gyres
  • Plastic pollution and microfiber research  
  • How to perform brand audits

Module 3: Marine Protected Areas and Engaging with Legislavitve Leaders (March 16th, 2023)

  • Guest Speaker: Jenny Larsen from the National Marine Sancutary Foundation   
  • The 30x30 Resolution to Save Nature and marine protected areas 
  • Advocating for a healthy ocean and watersheds 

Module 4: Deep-sea Mining and Empowering Your Voice (March 23rd, 2023)

  • Guest Speaker: Mark Haver from the Sustainable Ocean Alliance    
  • Deep-sea mining and the International Seabed Authority 
  • Empower your voice through engaging with your fellow Ambassadors

Module 5: Module 5: Supplements and Introduction to the Inland Ocean Network (March 30th, 2023)

  • Inland Ocean Ambassador Graduation Ceremony
  • Inland Ocean Network and next steps as an Ambassador

Meet the Speakers

Wallace J Nichols

Dr. Nichols helps people reestablish healthier, more creative and regenerative relationships with themselves, each other and their environment through water, wonder, wellness and wildlife. Dr. Wallace "J" Nichols — called a “Keeper of the Sea" by GQ Magazine, “a visionary" by Outside Magazine, a "water warrior" by AQUATICS International, a "friend of the sea" by Experience Life Magazine, and "the godfather of water" by Irish Life Health and Santa Cruz Waves Magazine — is an innovative, silo-busting, entrepreneurial scientist, movement maker, renowned marine biologist, voracious Earth and idea explorer, wild water advocate, bestselling author, sought after lecturer, and fun-loving Dad. He also likes turtles (a lot). Formerly a Senior Scientist at Ocean Conservancy, Nichols holds a B.A. degree from DePauw University in Biology and Spanish, an M.E.M. degree in Natural Resource Economics and Policy from Duke University, and a Ph.D. degree in Wildlife Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona. He received a Bradley Fellowship to study the impacts of sea level rise at Duke University Marine Lab, a Marshall Fellowship to study conservation while at the University of Arizona, and a Fulbright Fellowship to study at the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico marine station in Mazatlan. He has authored more than 200 scientific papers, technical reports, book chapters, and popular publications; lectured in more than 30 countries and nearly all 50 states; and appeared in hundreds of print, film, radio, and television media outlets including NPR, BBC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, National Geographic, Animal Planet, Time, Newsweek, GQ, Outside Magazine, USA Today, Elle, Vogue, Fast Company, Surfer Magazine, Scientific American, and New Scientist, among many others.

Lisa Erdle

Director of Science and Innovation, 5 Gyres
Lisa is a microplastics researcher, lifelong sailor, and is passionate about keeping waterways clean for wildlife and people. Lisa completed her PhD at the University of Toronto, where she researched sources, fate, and effects of microfibers in the environment. Currently, Lisa lives in California and is continuing research on microfibers and plastic pollution. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Lisa grew up swimming and sailing on the Great Lakes and holds a deep love of the water.

Jenny Larsen

Policy Manager, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation
Jenny Larsen joined the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation in December 2021 as the Policy Manager. Growing up in South Florida and California, the ocean has always felt like home for her. An attorney, Jenny has a background in law and policy. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was a senior associate at Strategies 360 where she worked on a variety of policy issues including ocean policy. During her time in law school Jenny worked in the Senate as a law clerk and in the House of Representatives as a legislative intern. She also held an internship as a law clerk at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, a non-profit focused on mental health law and criminal justice reform. Jenny earned a JD from Georgetown University Law Center and a BS from the University of Utah. She enjoys traveling and has a goal to visit all 63 National Parks.

Mark Haver

Global Policy Advisor, Sustainable Ocean Alliance
Mark is Sustainable Ocean Alliance’s North America Regional Representative. Mark was the inaugural chair of SOA's Youth Policy Advisory Council, where he built out SOA's youth policy campaigns for the Global Blue New Deal and a Deep-sea Mining Moratorium. Mark was an integral member of SOA's COP26 and COP27 teams, where he represented SOA and its position on deep-sea mining on several panels, including with the Government of Chile and the UN High Level Climate Champions. With partner member organizations of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, local student groups at UBC, and a global network of online activists and social media influencers, Mark led the organization of the demonstration against deep-sea mining and The Metals Company on Saturday outside IMPAC5. He is also a partnership coordinator for Deep Rising, the Sundance-nominated deep-sea mining documentary, narrated by Jason Momoa and directed by Matthieu Rytz.


“I am so happy and grateful for being guided to take part in the Inland Ocean Coalition Cohort. Through this program, not only have my eyes been opened to the problems surrounding our oceans but also ways to educate and reach out to people around the nation on solutions for future generations! I feel I have grown as a student and leader in my community through this program and I recommend anyone interested in learning about problems existing in our natural world to take part.” -DaRon Shavers

“The IOA program is an inspiring experience full of people who encourage each other to put their best fin forward for the ocean!” -Tabitha Birdwell

“The IOA training is knowledge-packed, inclusion-focused, and action-forward! It left me feeling inspired to work with my new colleagues and friends to apply what we learned to protect our ocean and land – starting with the 30×30 campaign.” – Angie Joerin

“I truly loved hearing from all the speakers, learning all the different ways that we can help, and knowing there are ways to get involved in our communities on so many different levels. I’m excited to start doing my part to help save our ocean and to spread the word of how everyone can help!” – Suzi Fowler

“I liked the topics studied. Real issues, how to address them. 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