Healthy Oceans Blog

Healthy Oceans Coalition hosts second annual advocacy training

Our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes are imperative to the health of the planet and the living things that call it home. 97 percent of Earth’s water supply is contained in the ocean and the Great Lakes house 95 percent of the United States’ fresh water supply. Despite the vitality of these bodies of water, our planet’s waterways face numerous and diverse challenges from the uncertainty swirling around federal funding for invaluable environmental agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to sea level rise, ocean acidification, and overfishing. When combined, these challenges seem daunting, which is why it is of the utmost importance for those that serve as the voice and watchdogs for our planet’s natural areas to organize, speak out, and work together on a united front. 

From April 12 to April 14, thirteen members of the Healthy Oceans Coalition (HOC), a network of ocean users, conservationists, and concerned citizens congregated in Chicago to fine-tune their knowledge of the National Ocean Policy (NOP) and regional ocean planning and sharpen their advocacy skills. Attendees traveled from more than seven states and represented the American Littoral SocietyConservation Law Foundation (CLF), the Haystack Rock Awareness ProgramInland Ocean CoalitionOcean Conservation Research, and Save Our Shores. By working to foster strong advocates, the second annual advocacy training was a step in the right direction toward the HOC’s ultimate goal of an America whose stewardship ensures that the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes are healthy, resilient, safe, and productive for generations to come.

Sarah Winter Whelan, Ocean Policy Program Director for the American Littoral Society and Jennifer Felt, Ocean Campaign Director for CLF kicked off the training with an informative session on the history and current status of the NOP and regional ocean planning. Peter Rafle, Senior Vice President for Spitfire Strategies facilitated an interactive, educational, and awareness building activity where attendees put their advocacy skills to the test. To tie up the training, Jenna Valente, the Healthy Oceans Coalition Coordinator with the American Littoral Society, immersed the group in the world of branding, consistent messaging, best practices in communication, and social media strategy.

Outside of the training hours, the group connected over some of the finest fare Chicago has to offer, learned about the city’s awe-inspiring architectureby foot and boat, and soaked up the unseasonably warm weather.

Missed this event? The HOC hosts events throughout the year. Contact Jenna Valente at for more information about how to get involved in HOC functions, actions, and initiatives.