Vermilion Sea Institute

Empowering communities for a sustainable future

aka VSI   |   BONITA, CA   |  https://www.vermilionseainstitute.org/

Mission

The mission of the Vermilion Sea Institute is to foster sustainable and enriching relationships between human societies and the ecosystems that support them. Because we recognize that these relationships are complex and multi-dimensional, VSI supports and implements programs that address not only ecological, but also cultural, economic, and sociopolitical aspects of environmental issues.

Ruling year info

2007

Executive Director

Meghann K McDonald

Community Outreach Coordinator

Katie Dell

Main address

PO BOX 1904

BONITA, CA 91908 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

20-8381814

NTEE code info

Biological, Life Science Research includes Marine Biology, Physiology, Biochemistry, Genetics, Biotechnology, etc.) (U50)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (B05)

Environmental Education and Outdoor Survival Programs (C60)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Aventureros

Aventureros is a youth program in the town of Bahia de Los Angeles in Baja California, Mexico. There is no cost for children or families to participate. The objective is to help local youth develop an interest in conservation and the natural world to prepare them to make future choices that protect local species, preserve their marine environment, and if applicable, use safe and sustainable fishing practices

The Aventureros are a group of young “ecowarriors” who eagerly team up with local and international conservation efforts to learn about, participate in, and promote one another’s missions. They have contributed to ongoing research on whale sharks with VSI, sea turtles with Grupo Tortuguero , microplastics with The Big Microplastic Survey. In these instances Aventureros are often trained citizen scientists who contribute local data to worldwide research efforts. The Aventureros have also worked with ProNatura and the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas to learn and grow local conservation efforts.

Despite the incredible biodiversity in the area, local youth have traditionally had very limited access to the waters of the Sea of Cortez outside of fishing. Recognizing that access to the study of this environment and species should not be limited to stationed and visiting scientists, VSI created Aventureros to help local youth and teens discover Bahia’s marine and terrestrial ecosystems, learn how humans impact these ecosystems, and most specifically, learn deeply about whale sharks and the work that goes into protecting this endangered species. To achieve these purposes, young people living in Bahia are invited to participate in programs concurrently with visiting scientists, participate in data collection, and help design educational activities. Additionally, a structured curriculum is actively being created by a team of volunteer educators and scientists, to support these students throughout the school year, and to offer enrichment activities during the summer months.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
At-risk youth

The Wildbook for Whale Sharks project aims to combine innovative technology that applies spot pattern recognition algorithms – used by astronomers to recognize celestial patterns in the night sky – to identify individual whale sharks via their unique, behind-the-gill spots. Through a week-long field-based program, VSI seeks to provide an incredible educational experience for volunteers who will learn how to correctly capture photographs of whale sharks visiting Bahia de los Angeles, upload these photos to whaleshark.org, and help share the project findings with the local community and beyond.

Population(s) Served
Age groups
Ethnic and racial groups
Social and economic status
Work status and occupations

Where we work

Awards

1st place - Project of Ecological Merit 2021

Natural Protected Area of Bahía de los Ángeles/CONANP

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Community members, students, professionals, educators, scientists, visitors

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes, Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Based on constituent need, we recently added 3 additional bilingual mentors to educational leadership team.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    We have a long history of empowering people of all ages to be involved in decision making processes. We recently started including youth representatives in strategic/planning meetings for educational programs. Learning from the youth perspective has been transformational for instructors and has empowered the youth to authentically engage in decision making and buy-in to outcomes.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time,

Financials

Vermilion Sea Institute
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Vermilion Sea Institute

Board of directors
as of 3/28/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

T'Noya Thompson

North American Association for Environmental Education

Term: 2020 -

Aaron Hirsh

University of Colorado

Veronica Volny

Meadow Lark Farm DInners

Joshua Maximon

Mann & Maximon Attorneys At Law

Joseph Kennedy

UCSD Extension

D. Burnett

Princeton University

Olivia Walton

Cornell University

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 03/28/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Multi-Racial/Multi-Ethnic (2+ races/ethnicities)
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Decline to state

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or other sexual orientations in the LGBTQIA+ community

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 03/28/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.