Bringing young ocean leaders together as they confront the challenges of our coastlines
Each year, 140 young people (ages 18-30) from different backgrounds form a national team and spend 6-months co-creating and delivering ocean and waterway service projects in their home communities. They learn from one another and local experts, while forming strong bonds as a group. Positioning youth as ocean ambassadors, the program aims to empower participants to become active Ocean Wise citizens and adopt a culture of service through the following program components:
Community & Capacity Building
From May to October, participants connect as a national team and with the broader community of ocean conservation through a variety of distance-learning activities including speaker series, discussions, workshops, and reflections. Topics of climate change, ocean pollution and overfishing deepen participants’ understanding of complex ocean conservation challenges while professional development workshops build participants’ capacities to act as ambassadors for the ocean.
*Ocean Bridge ambassadors are eligible to receive an iPad on loan to support participation in this virtual component of the program.
Remote Learning Journey
Hosted between May and July, the first Learning Journey experience is a 10-day immersive Learning Journey which focuses on ocean and waterway health and delivering action projects in a remote setting. During this journey, Ocean Bridge ambassadors meet their peers in person for the first time to learn, explore, connect, and experience an aquatic habitat and its major conservation threats. By living, working, and reflecting as a team in an iconic natural setting, the ambassadors will develop social capital, respect for diversity and a heightened sense of responsibility and pride in the natural environment, themselves, and one another. During this trip, ambassadors will:
- Explore nature in a way they might not have done before with an accent on one’s own environmental footprint and how it impacts water health;
- Experience and take an active role in conservation action projects organized by staff and program alumni;
- Listen and learn from local experts, researchers, and traditional knowledge keepers to gain new perspectives on water protection.
The Remote Learning Journey is partially co-delivered with some local Indigenous partners who know best the area, its history and can help us better understand the complexity of interconnection and the underlying threats of our aquatic habitats. Our goal is that our ambassadors return home to their communities with a deepened understanding of the importance of water protection from an environmental-conservation lens as well as from a spiritual and cultural lens.
Urban Learning Journey
In September, Ocean Bridge ambassadors participate in their second immersive learning journey. Focusing on outreach and professional development, participants will gather in Vancouver, BC to form a delegation to the 5th International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5). Beyond the conference, participants will organize and participate in a series of ocean actions scheduled around the city from discussions to shoreline cleanups. As ocean ambassadors, Ocean Bridge will look for participants who are interested in not only taking the lead in planning activities around the conference, but also in hosting sessions and representing Ocean Wise at key events.
*Remote and Urban Learning Journeys are subject to local, provincial, and federal health guidelines and travel restrictions. While we hope to bring youths together for in-person activities, we will only do so if it can be done safely for participants, staff, and our community hosts. When necessary, distance-based experiences will be facilitated as an alternative to in-person programming.
Coaching & Action Projects
During the 6-month program, participants take action for the ocean and waterways by identifying, developing and delivering a action project. This year, participants will deliver their project as part of IMPAC5’s Ocean Festival running from June until September. An Ocean Bridge program staff provides guidance and support to Ocean Bridge ambassadors throughout 1:1 bi-weekly coaching calls. These individualized coaching sessions focus on goal setting, action project development and delivery, and reflection.
To support their ocean action projects, Ocean Bridge ambassadors can access:
- Up to $500 Youth Ocean Action Grant funding.
- A range of action project kits, on loan, equipped with everything you need for: videography, podcasting, shoreline cleanup, water quality testing, backyard BioBlitz, education outreach, and more.
“I work in healthcare, and I know that our health is directly impacted by healthy environments and oceans. Ocean Bridge has given me the opportunity to educate myself and then bring that knowledge back to my community – and best of all I get to do it alongside so many other inspiring young people from across the country.”
2020 Ocean Bridge Classic alum – Quebec
Program Requirements for Ambassadors
- Complete a minimum of 120-hours (average of 5 hours/week) of ocean and waterway service through the 6-month program including developing and delivering an ocean action project independently or in collaboration with other Ocean Bridge Ambassadors (note that time spent participating in all components of the Ocean Bridge Classic program contributes to your 120 hours requirement).
- Engage in bi-weekly 1:1 coaching session with an Ocean Bridge team staff (duration and frequency is participant dependent and may vary from 30 min to 1 hour).
- Participate fully in a 2-day virtual orientation on May 6-7.
- Participate fully in a 10-day immersive regional learning journey* in the summer.
- Participate fully in a 5-day immersive learning journey* to Vancouver, BC in September.
- Contribute meaningfully to your individual or collaborative action project to be delivered during IMPAC5’s Ocean Festival.
- Participate in the online community space through full engagement in the online learning modules comprised of speaker series, online discussion, and skill development workshops.
- Submit a final project report to the Ocean Bridge Project database.
- We understand that life is full of surprises and we are open to discussing commitment requirements with participants on an individual basis.
Who can participate?
Each year we recruits 140 youth for the Ocean Bridge Classic program. The participants are selected to represent the social, economic and geographic diversity of Canada. To be eligible, participants must:
- Be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or person who has been granted refugee status in Canada;
- Be living in Canada for the duration of the program and cannot be out of the country for more than one month consecutively;
- Be 18 to 30 years old at the start date of the program.
Whether you are from a rural land locked town, northern communities, urban coastal city or anywhere else in between we want to hear from you! The program will cover travel expenses including transport, accommodations, activities and meals for both immersive service Learning Journeys. Additional supports accessible to participants on a need’s basis include:
- Financial support for phone or internet access throughout the program.
- Financial support for childcare care costs during the immersive learning journeys.
- Adaptive technology (device, equipment, or software that is used to help a person with a disability or impairment reach full functional capacity).
When I was up in the North, it could be very hard; it can feel like you’re by yourself, you’re isolated in this kind of work. But getting to know all the youth who are involved in Ocean Bridge has been amazing, being able to talk to each other about our service projects, what we want to do when we get back home and how we can all help each other out
2019 Ocean Bridge Classic alum –Nunavut
Frequently Asked Questions
The Ocean Bridge Classic program can be delivered safely in a COVID-19 context with adaptations. The distance-learning and coaching components are delivered remotely and are unaffected by COVID-19. The remote and urban learning journeys, and many youth-led action projects, are traditionally delivered in-person and therefore may need to be modified with added precautions or shifted to a virtual delivery model. Your program staff will decide whether your program is in-person, virtual or a blended model based on the local and federal health and safety regulations in the months leading up to and during the learning journey.
If COVID-19 regulations lead to your learning journey being hosted “virtually” you can expect an immersive experience that gets you up, outside and moving. In most cases, except for full lockdown scenarios, our virtual learning journeys include online virtual sessions, workshops, and solo that can take place in your home or outside where you can be a safe physical distance from others. Our team has a year of experience testing distance-learning and virtual engagement strategies in a COVID-19 context, and we are confident we can provide participants with a meaningful experience whether we connect with you in-person or from a distance.
Ocean Bridge Classic is a fully funded program and there is no cost to the participant. For both immersive learning journey experiences, the program covers travel, food and accommodation expenses if applicable. Participants may qualify for additional support to cover some childcare expenses, internet connectivity, and adaptive technology. All participants have free access to mental health & wellness support through Ocean Wise for the duration of the program.
Ocean Bridge Classic is about giving youth and young professionals new experiences, so we do not require participants to have any specific background with respect to work, volunteer, or school. It is more important to us that participants are curious and passionate about our oceans, have a desire to make a difference and are prepared to engage fully for the duration of their ambassadorship.