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 Training is a 5-session, 5-week online program that prepares individuals to take action to protect our ocean and waterways. The training features a 6-month engagement period where ambassadors work directly with IOC staff to raise awareness of key ocean and water issues in their own communities. The training is offered three times per year.

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 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 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. 

The next Inland Ocean Ambassador session is scheduled to begin June 10th, 2021.

Apply Now

  • Each session is held at 4pm PT/7pm ET, 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

We ask 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.

Summer 2021 Training Timeline

Module 1: Course Intro and the Power of Storytelling (June 10th, 2021)

  • 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 (June 17th, 2021)

  • Guest Speakers: Anupa Asokan - fisherwoman and Surfrider member
  • Marine Protected Areas and the 30x30 Resolution to Save Nature with an emphasis on fishing
  • How to write an Op-Ed and Letter to the Editor (LTE)

Module 3: Plastic Pollution and Watershed Health (June 24th, 2021)

  • Guest Speakers: Jackie Nunez from the Plastic Pollution Coalition and Wayne Frederick, farmer from Osage, Iowa
  • Plastic pollution issues and solutions
  • The importance of healthy watersheds
  • Break Free From Plastic, Presidential Plastics Plan, and brand audit discussion
  • Event planning and community engagement: how to grow within your community

Module 4: Advocating for a Healthy Ocean (July 1st, 2021)

  • Guest Speakers: Michael Stocker from Ocean Conservation Research
  • Ocean Based Climate Solutions Act
  • Offshore Wind Development
  • 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 (July 8th, 2021)

  • Inland Ocean Ambassador Graduation Ceremony


“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 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