Ocean Ambassador Program




About the Program

The Ocean Ambassador Program has been postponed until new funding is found to continue. In the Spring of 2016, we started a half-day training called the Ocean Rangers Volunteer Leadership Training. If you want to start getting involved with the Colorado Ocean Coalition and learn more about the inland ocean movement, please fill out our Ocean Rangers interest card for the next training.   

Click here for the Ocean Rangers Interest Card 

Topics Covered in the Ocean Rangers Training:

  • The Watershed-to-Sea Messaging and presentation by Colorado Ocean Coalition Executive Director covering all the issues and topics that are affecting our watersheds, rivers, lakes, and oceans
  • Volunteer Handbook & Expectations for being a community leader
  • Activity Stations :Tabling 101, How to use the Watershed Model, How to discuss and run a plastic pollution class or art demo, microbeads learning activities for groups or outreach, etc.
  • Opportunities to Sign up for a COCO Volunteer activity or project

In 2014, with a grant from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, The Colorado Ocean Coalition (COCO) launched the first-of-its-kind program in Colorado, the Ocean Ambassador Certification Program.

The Ocean Ambassador (OA) Certification Program provides opportunity for motivated individuals to come together and tap into their desire to make real and positive change within their community and beyond. Through approximately 30 hours of training, the dedicated individuals accepted into the program will learn from scientists and experts about some of the most pressing global environmental issues, with a particular focus on the world’s oceans and fresh water resources. Because this program emphasizes solution-based thinking, Ocean Ambassador candidates are empowered and prepared to take action in a variety of ways to effectively make a difference and inspire others to do the same

Founded on the belief that everyone can make a difference in the health of our ocean and regional water systems, the mantra of COCO is that you don’t have to see the ocean to protect it. Thus Coloradoans, like all people on the planet have an important role to play in ocean and watershed protection –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. Furthermore, with annual nation-wide water shortages now a common crisis, and water pollution and ocean acidification a critical global issue, this program plays a vital role in citizen awareness and engagement for ocean conservation.

“With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you’re connected to the sea. No matter where on Earth you live.” – Dr. Sylvia Earle

Who is an Ambassador?

We encourage individuals who are passionate about ocean conservation and water quality issues to apply to this unique volunteer leadership program.

An Ocean Ambassador (OA) is someone who has the ambition and desire to get involved and ignite real change. Within the Colorado Ocean Coalition (COCO) we believe that change can be achieved by utilizing a wide variety of strengths and talents. Ideally, each class of Ocean Ambassador candidates will encompass individuals from a broad range of talents and backgrounds, giving the program rich diversity in interests and projects chosen and/or designed for volunteer outreach.

Meet the Ocean Ambassadors from our inaugural class of 2014

2015 Training Schedule

Through approximately 30 hours of training, Ocean Ambassador (OA) candidates are empowered with information such as: problems and solutions regarding marine conservation, plastic and other pollution issues, watershed health, marine sanctuary protection and legislation, how to best utilize social media, the art of public speaking, and much more.

With a productive mix of lectures by scientist and experts, hands-on experiential work, media materials, World Café style group activities, and optional field trips our OA candidates are provided with the education and leadership tools to make a difference.

2015 Revised Schedule









          Class #1, evening




          Class #2, full day




          Class #3, evening





         Class #4, evening




         Class #5, evening




         Class #6, evening




         Class #7, full day


The majority of our training sessions will be held at Alfalfa’s market in Boulder,1651 Broadway Boulder, Colorado 80302, in the Community Rm

Exceptions to this are on:

9/28, Session #3, – Watershed School in Boulder 1661 Alpine Ave, Boulder, CO 80304

10/7, Session #5 – Will be in the Board Room at Alfalfa’s in Boulder, same address as listed above

  • Light refreshments and beverages will be provided for evening classes
  • Light breakfast, tea and coffee, as well as a lunch and light snacks throughout the day will be provided for Saturday classes
  • No outside food or beverage (other than water) may be consumed in the Community Room at Alfalfa’s – this is part of the agreement with use of the room
  • Please bring a reusable water bottle and coffee/tea mug for the training sessions


Requirements and Commitment

1. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older.

2. Able to attend prescheduled training sessions (please see training schedule tab). Training is approximately 30 hours spread over 7 sessions and range in length from 2.5-7 hours each.
3. Committed to fulfill a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer outreach work to be completed within one year.  Out of these hours, a minimum of 15 hours must to go toward a Colorado Ocean Coalition (COCO) sponsored outreach (see below).  The  remainder of your hours may go to your uniquely designed Volunteer Outreach Project (VOP) and/or additional COCO sponsored outreach you would like to take part in.
4. Each OA candidate is required to partner with another OA candidate from the class to represent COCO at one outreach event (i.e. Boulder Creek Festival, Earth Day Celebration, World Oceans Day Celebration, Green Beer Festival etc…). Together, as representatives of and OA candidates for COCO, you may select an event for which you will set-up, organize, and coordinate all details surrounding COCO’s booth presence and overall participation at that specific event.
5. Committed to participate in at least two of the following COCO sponsored outreach opportunities (approximately 4 hours per most commitments):
  • Work with COCO and its affiliates on a community service day (i.e. stream-side or reservoir clean up etc.)
  • Give the COCO slide show/presentation at a venue of your choosing
  • Participate in a COCO sponsored advocacy opportunity such as a day on the Hill, speaking with legislators, attending city council meetings etc
  • Volunteer at and assist with a COCO fundraiser event
6. Attend the Ocean Ambassador graduation ceremony. Once the OA candidates have fulfilled their requirements for training and have reached or surpassed their VOP hours (within one year following completion of training), we will celebrate with a graduation celebration honoring the newly certified Ocean Ambassadors! Exact date TBD.


After Graduation and Becoming Certified OAs:

We strongly encourage and hope that each Ocean Ambassador will continue to participate and engage with the COCO community, their cohort as well as previous and future classes of OAs. Additionally, there are opportunities for Certified OAs to work closely with and mentor future classes of Ocean Ambassador candidates as well!



Ambassador Initiatives & Volunteer Outreach Projects

Ocean Ambassador (OA) initiatives represent the action and outreach portion of the Colorado Ocean Coalition’s (COCO) objectives.  These OA initiatives encompass the individual OA Volunteer Outreach Projects (VOP) as well as our COCO sponsored outreach opportunities.

Volunteer Outreach Project (VOP): As part of the commitment to the OA Certification Program, each OA candidate is required to fulfill a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer outreach to be completed within one year.  *Please see the Requirements and Commitment tab for more information on requirements and for a break-down on VOP hours.

If an OA candidate chooses to design a VOP, COCO will assist however possible in customizing projects based on each participant’s interest and expertise. *Please see the Ongoing Initiatives tab to read about existing VOPs and how the last class of OAs utilized their outreach hours.


Apply for the Program


PROGRAM BEGINS: Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Important Details to Note :

  • Total cost for the program is $350 (*Please note that this fee is tuition for the program and therefore is not tax deductable)
  • See the 2015 Training Schedule tab to confirm that you are available and able to attend OA training hours
  • See Requirements and Commitment tab to confirm your interest and commitment to becoming a Certified Ocean Ambassador

Please email the following items to Program Coordinator, Mehgan Heaney-Grier: oceanambassadors@gmail.com

1-    Application – OA Application 2015

2-    Resume

3-    Two letters of reference, one professional and one character/commitment reference is preferred

4-    One page letter of interest from you, describing why you would like to be an Ocean Ambassador, and what qualifications and interests you would bring to the Program – Please include some ideas regarding the kind(s) of outreach that would be most interesting to you as an Ocean Ambassador candidate

5-    Optional Paragraph – please feel free to also supply a paragraph or list containing any additional information – experiences, interests, adventures, awards etc. that might help us get to know you better

6-   Submit a non-refundable $25 application fee payment at: http://oceanfdn.org/donate/payment-colorado-ocean-coalition ***Please note that this fee is not tax deductible and is non-refundable, however if you are accepted into the program it will be applied to the $350.00 tuition fee

If necessary, you may also mail a check for the application fee to the address listed below, made payable to The Ocean Foundation

Ocean Ambassador Certification Program
P.O. Box 572, Lafayette, CO 80026
Phone: 970-343-4429


Sponsor the Program

Financial and in-kind contributions are key to the OA Certification Program’s success.

Interested in becoming a program sponsor?

Support the Ocean Ambassador Certification Program today!


Press Materials

Please contact us directly for more information  oceanambassadors@gmail.com / Phone: 970-343-4429




The Ocean Ambassadors who are part of this program are truly champions of the community for ocean conservation.  They have given their time and expertise, sharing their knowledge with others through leadership and volunteer outreach.

Meet The 2015 Ocean Ambassadors 

Meet The 2014 Ocean Ambassadors (Coming Soon!)

This is what some of the 2014 Ocean Ambassadors are saying about the program…

“The Ocean Ambassador Program provided me with the means to combine my love of the mountains and the ocean.  It’s very exciting to be a part of a group of individuals that are so passionate about protecting ocean health from a mile high! ” – Kelsey Bartling

 “I really enjoyed the variety of speakers and the incredible amount of knowledge I learned in such a short time. It’s been great being able to speak more confidently about issues facing our oceans and the environment in general, as well as knowing some specific actions to take to help.” – Jessie Berggren

“I knew I loved the ocean before the Ocean Ambassador program, and I left the program feeling empowerd and able to spread the message of change for such an important part of our planet.” -Marlee Glasgow

“Becoming an Ocean Ambassador has been a great experience. From day one in the classroom through today, I approach conservation issues with a new perspective. I feel confident in my knowledge about ocean conservation to share with others and help others with their conservation habits. I am prepared and well versed in the issues, as well as possible solutions. I am so happy I’ve gained this knowledge and have the platform as an Ambassador to share with others!” – Audrey Tobin

“The Ocean Ambassador Program provided an in-depth and interesting  curriculum of ocean issues and solutions. Guest speakers, readings, films and class activities provided us with the knowledge and skills to engage in our communities, educating and promoting for healthier oceans.” – Jane Enterline

“The Ocean Ambassdor training program provided a whirlwind tour not only of the numerous problems threatening the health of the oceans, but of concrete, manageable solutions. In the process, I had the opportunity to rub shoulders with scientists, journalists, filmmakers, artists and activists – all brimming with fresh ideas and novel projects. I left the course concerned, informed, inspired, and prepared to take action.” – Jessica Kenigson

“Participating in the Ocean Ambassador program inspired me to take action.  I learned a great deal about the current state of our oceans and waterways, giving me a foundation to talk with other people in the community about ways to bring about change. There was also a sense of community and collaboration within the program that left you with the feeling that anything was possible” – Taylor Replane

“The Ocean Ambassador Program is the perfect blend of inspiring, intelligent and thought provoking information.  It encourages creativity, community, wisdom and action throughout the program and with the various VOP projects.” – Jennifer Talagrand  

“The OA program has been a great opportunity to meet people with the same passion about the ocean and water conservation and to see different points of view and to learn from others.” – Fer Mijangos 


Program Speakers

2015 Ocean Ambassador Certification Program:

Gray Wockner, PhD, Executive Director and Board Chair for Save the Colorado

Janice Lopitz, Keep it Clean Partnership Coordinator

Dr. Alan Vajda, Assistant Professor at University of Colorado, Denver, University of Colorado, Denver Endocrinology, Histology, Systems Biology – Expertise in Endocrine Disruption Environmental Toxicology Ecological Developmental Biology

Steve Emmet-Mattox, Senior Director of Strategic Planning and Programs with Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE)

Sarah Winter, Director at Regional Marine Conservation Project

Dr. Billy Causey, SE Regional Director for NOAA’s office of NMS – Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, SE Atlantic

Dr. Joanie Kleypas, KScientist III, sits jointly within NESL’s Oceanography Section and NCAR’s Integrated Science Program

Dory Ford, Owner and head chef , CEO of Aqua Terra Culinary and Baur’s Restaurant in Denver

Vicki Goldstein, COCO Founder and Executive Director

Ted Ross, Certified OA 2014, Watershed & River Education Outreach and COCO Strategy Assistance

Mehgan Heaney-Grier, OA Program Coordinator

Annie Smith, COCO Operations Manager

Michelle Lievese, Certified OA 2014, Professional writer with expertise in strategic marketing, social media, public debate and coaching, and small business and start up consulting

Mikki McComb-Kobza, Former ED of Teens 4 Oceans / Executive Director of Ocean First

Lauren Riegler, Outreach Coordinator, Ocean First Institute

David Helvarg, Journalist, Author, Founder and President of Blue Frontier Campaign

Claudio Garzon, Activist, Artist, and Educator, Founder and Executive Director of Save Oceans & Seas (SOS), and Sea Turtle Warriors (STW)

2014 Ocean Ambassador Certification Program:

Cheryl Seruto, The Stream Team

Janice Lopitz, Keep it Clean Partnership Coordinator

Dr. Alan Vajda, Professor CU Denver and Environmental Endocrinologist

Sarah Glaser, Fisheries Ecologist, University of Denver

Shawn Heinrichs, Emmy Award winning Cinematographer and Marine Conservationist

Dr. Synte Peacock, Scientist II in the Oceanography Section, Climate and Global Dynamics Division at NCAR 

Dr. Steve Nerem, Professor of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, Expertise in Rising Sea Levels

Rachel Bruce, Debate Coach with the Denver Urban Debate League

Debra Jason, Professional Copywriter and Marketing Coach, Expertise in Social Media & Networking

Andy Schultheiss, Policy and Political Strategist, Former District Director for Congressman Jared Polis

Dr. Mikki McComb- Kobza, Executive Director of Teens4Oceans

Sarah Winter Whelan, Director, Regional Marine Conservation Project

Vicki Goldstein, COCO Founder and Executive Director

Glen Charnoski COCO Volunteer

Claudio Garzón, Artist and Director of Creative Affairs at Save Oceans & Seas (S.O.S.)

Dr. Billy Causey, National Marine Sanctuary, Regional Director Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean

Matt Brookhart, Chief Policy & Planning at NOAA, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

Ryan Van Duzer, Travel Journalist, TV Personality, Adventurer and Activist

Program Sponsors

Thank you to our generous Program Sponsors. The 2014 Ocean Ambassador Certification Program was made possible in part by the National Marine Sanctuaries Hollings Grant and the following sponsors:


Financial and in-kind contributions are key to the OA Certification Program’s success.

Interested in becoming a program sponsor?

Support the Ocean Ambassador Certification Program today!



Make a Donation!