Posted on March 31, 2016 by Jenna Valente
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, 30 percent of manmade carbon dioxide is absorbed by it and 70 percent of the oxygen we breathe is produced by marine plants. Despite its importance, our planet’s waterways face numerous and diverse challenges from pollution and overfishing to acidification and sea level rise, which is why it is in dire need of advocates to give the ocean a voice and protect it.
From March 8 to March 10, fifteen members of the Healthy Oceans Coalition (HOC), a network of ocean users, conservationists and concerned citizens congregated in Savannah, Ga., to expand their knowledge of theNational Ocean Policy (NOP), identify how it relates to their organization’s missions and hone their advocacy skills. By working to foster strong advocates, the first of its kind training served as a welcome opportunity for the HOC to move toward its ultimate goal of an America whose stewardship ensures that the oceans, coasts and Great Lakes are healthy and resilient, safe and productive, and understood and treasured for generations to come.
Sarah Winter Whelan, Ocean Policy Program Director for the American Littoral Society and Jennifer Felt, Ocean Campaign Director for the Conservation Law Foundation kicked off the training with an enriching session on the history and status of the NOP and regional ocean planning. Maggie Owner, Senior Account Manager for Spitfire Strategies facilitated an interactive activity where attendees practiced honing their skills in education and awareness building as well as advocating to policymakers. To tie up the training, Jenna Valente, the Healthy Oceans Coalition Coordinator with the American Littoral Society, spent the final portion of the training immersing the group in the world of consistent messaging, best practices in communication and social media strategy.
Outside of the training hours, the group made valuable connections over some of the finest fare Savannah has to offer, learning about the city’s haunted history, enjoying the Spanish moss-draped trees, verdant parks and other sights that the nation’s first planned city boasts.
Missed this event? The HOC will hold another training of this nature in the fall. Contact Jenna Valente for more information about how to get involved in HOC functions, actions, and initiatives.