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CITIZENS DRIVING CHANGE
First of its kind program launching in Colorado:
OCEAN Ambassador Certification Program
Boulder, Colorado – March 31, 2013 – Colorado and the Rocky Mountains play a critical role in nation-wide water supply and water quality – with waters on the west side of the continental divide eventually reaching the Pacific Ocean, and waters on the east side of the divide running to the Gulf of Mexico. With annual nation-wide water shortages becoming a common crisis, and water pollution and ocean acidification becoming a critical global issue, this first-of-its-kind program in Colorado is very timely.
The Ocean Ambassador (OA) Certification Program will arm everyday citizens with the knowledge and tools needed to make a positive change in their local communities. This unique program will empower a team of Ocean Ambassadors (OAs) through 30 hours of training, with information about current issues related to watershed quality, pollution, and ocean conservation from the experts in their field.
Founded on the belief that everyone can make a difference in the health of our oceans and regional water systems, the mantra of the Colorado Ocean Coalition (COCO) is that you don’t have to see the ocean to protect it. There are a number of things citizens can do locally to make a positive change. Last year alone thousands of petitions were initiated through social media by concerned citizens. Many of these petitions prompted real legislative change and social action, actions like reducing plastic use, becoming more conscious consumers, and even starting grass roots community projects – these are all ways that people are currently making a difference. For example, ‘Think Outside the Bottle’ is a citizen driven organization that has recently lead the charge in banning the sale of plastic bottles in San Francisco.
Vicki Nichols-Goldstein, founder of COCO and the OA Certification Program, reminds us how deep the change can go. Dennis Long, a graduate from a similar program she created in California called Sanctuary Stewards, credits his involvement with that program to his complete career switch into a field that he is truly passionate about. Dennis, now Director of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, had a career in technology when he became more aware of the degradation of the ocean from human impacts. “He decided to do something about it, and joined the program”, says Vicki. “The connection and education truly transforms the way we look at the world”.
Once training is complete OAs will reach out to the community through 50 hours of volunteer work on an outreach project of their choosing – utilizing their strengths and talents. “Artists, journalists, community organizers, students, or scientists – they all have a role to play, regardless of background and ocean experience. If they’re passionate about it, everyone can integrate mindful practices into their trade and make a difference”, says Mehgan Heaney-Grier, the OA Certification Program’s lead. “I would love to see our future team of OAs use form of media and platform available for ocean conservation outreach”.
Leading up to her position with COCO, Mehgan, former long-term Florida Keys resident, has had a rich history with the ocean environment as a freedive champion, marine conservationist, Hollywood stunt diver, TV personality, and biologist. Her underwater endeavors have been featured worldwide in a variety of publications including Life, People, and Outside magazines, and in many television segments and documentaries including her own series on Animal Planet. Mehgan is known for her work and encounters with sharks and other marine predators, and as a pioneer in the sport of freediving, when in 1996 she established the first-ever United States freedive record for both men and women in the constant weight category, with an unassisted dive to 155 feet, on a single breath of air. In 2000 Mehgan was part of the inaugural roster inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame.
About the Ocean Ambassador (OA) Certification Program:
The OA Certification Program will take place in Boulder, Colorado at the Watershed School, and run over the course of 5 weeks beginning May 2, 2014. The full schedule and access to the application can be found at http://coloradoocean.org/oa-schedule/.
About the Colorado Ocean Coalition (COCO):
The Colorado Ocean Coalition, based in Boulder, Colorado, is a project of The Ocean Foundation, a 501(c) 3 organization. COCO Executive Director, Vicki Nichols-Goldstein, founded the coalition to engage and connect people living inland in local and national ocean conservation efforts. “I really didn’t plan on starting this here, it started as a hobby, but this community is so engaged and so many people really want to make a difference”, Vicki says, “Creating this program is a way to help guide people who want make a difference but may not know where to begin”.
COCO’S MISSION is to create, unite and empower a Colorado coalition with shared values, goals and actions to promote healthy oceans through education and community engagement. Until COCO was founded, there had never been a unified voice for ocean protection in the Mountain States, “and seeing that all water flows to the ocean and literally starts its journey here, it only makes sense to start at the source”, says Vicki.
Ocean Ambassador Certification Program
Phone: (970) 343-4429 / Email: [email protected] www.coloradoocean.org