OCEAN FIRST INSTITUTE

Ocean Conservation Through Research and Education

Boulder, CO   |  www.oceanfirstinstitute.org

Mission

Ocean First Institute is a non-profit organization with the mission of ocean conservation through research and education. Our organization is unique because we value the synergy between research and education. The purpose of our research is to protect ocean wildlife and critical habitats. We use the stories and experiences from our field work to educate and inspire young people in classrooms all over the world.

Ruling year info

2015

Executive Director

Dr. Mikki McComb-Kobza

Main address

3015 Bluff Street

Boulder, CO 80301 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

47-1716881

NTEE code info

Marine Science and Oceanography (U21)

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

Wildlife Preservation/Protection (D30)

IRS filing requirement

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

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

We are often asked why we have an ocean focused institute in the heart of the Rockies. Our answer is simple: we want to give access to the wonders of the ocean to students who would otherwise, never learn about them.Marine science is not typically taught in K-12 schools. The result is a generation of students that do not understand the vital role the ocean plays in our everyday lives, regardless of where we live. We seek to change that paradigm with empowering educational programs that express the urgency of our mission to educate and inspire. youth to become the future leaders of environmental conservation and stewardship.

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?

Youth Outreach

We focus on youth experiential learning and education because we recognize that young people are our future. Our core mission is to impart knowledge and provide experiences for youth to engage in meaningful marine science. We accomplish this through our local hands-on programming, international virtual outreach, as well as our youth expeditions. Our programs are built around students working alongside passionate marine scientists and educators in both the classroom and the field.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Adults

By bringing the ocean to the classroom through in-person education programs, OFI is able to showcase unique opportunities for students and expose them to the incredibly diverse ocean world. Our In-School Programs have been expanding student's knowledge in the areas of ocean literacy, marine biology, and conservation biology directly in 7 counties in Colorado and through virtual programming worldwide. Our lessons involve interactive inquiry-based experiments that help motivate and support students for success in the advancement of their education and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The outreach team engages students in fun activities that demonstrate how we are all connected to the ocean, no matter where we live, while helping to inspire future leaders in marine science and conservation.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Adults

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of website sessions

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Related Program

Youth Outreach

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

We educated students through SKYPE in the Classroom and ZOOM platforms virtual field trips. We also provide recorded live webinars that are free to download for educators and parents.

Number of participants attending course/session/workshop

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, Adults

Related Program

Youth Outreach

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

We conduct virtual field trips, zoom course programming, podcasts and webinars for youth and citizen scientists.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Through dynamic, hands-on programming that highlights scientific exploration and inquiry, we connect youth with the wonders of the ocean and educate students on the importance of science. Our goals are to bring the Reef to the Rockies by offering unique, substantive, national standard-based courses for K12 students through school partnerships and at our facility at the Ocean Discovery Center in Boulder. We are also focused on making this programming available for free for as many students as possible, especially historically under-represented students. As we move forward with our marine science research, we are also concentrating on innovating new technologies in artificial intelligence for marine science research to increase our ability to better understand and protect the wonders of the ocean. We are also continuing to work side-by-side with
students in substantive marine science research and award-winning conservation projects in their local communities.

Our three buckets of work include: research, education and conservation. Our staff scientists and educators bring their extensive research and conservation experiences into the classroom to increase student knowledge and understanding of imperiled marine habitat and species. For example, in the past few years our scientists have conducted research on micro-plastic pollution in inland watersheds, Restoration of imperiled species through breeding and eDNA research. Our award winning conservation project on the restoration of the Northern Red Belly Dace in Colorado. Students working with our scientists and government partners, have reintroduced hundreds of native fish into rehabilitated natural habitats. As an example of some of the current projects we are working on: we have researchers working with Rays and Sharks all over the world, Giant Goliath Grouper conservation in Florida, Bone Fish and Tarpin conservation, Hammerhead Shark social hierarchy and breeding in Florida and Costa Rica, Great White Shark tracking in the Atlantic and in March 2022, post-volcanic eruption, underwater stereo video research on larval succession off the coast of Tonga.

We are able to incorporate all of this research into our programming and even bring students to the research sites virtually, providing one-of-a-kind opportunities for aspiring, young scientists and innovators to participate in cutting edge marine science and conservation efforts. With these capabilities, we have observed our students growing in their ability to experience science in new and exciting ways. They create connections to nature and participating in conservation projects, while developing empathy through knowledge for the marine world.

We seek to continue to engage our students by taking them into the field, and on expeditions where they conduct research along-side expert marine scientists. Our local lessons and projects focus on community conservation projects, as well as teaching viable, daily positive actions that help protect water and wildlife worldwide.

Our goal is to foster and mentor the next generation of marine scientists, explorers and ocean advocates. As we navigate the COVID 19 pandemic, we have created digital and virtual programming that has empowered us to connect with an even broader audience about current and critical research and conservation. We are making good progress toward our goal, with the help of our staff and graduate student interns, along with hundreds of volunteers. Thus far, we have reached tens of thousands of individuals through virtual and in-person educational outreach events, species conservation partnerships and shared research.

We are led by a world renowned shark expert, Mikki McComb-Kobza, PhD., who lives in Colorado, but has conducted cutting edge research all over the world. Her connections have afforded us opportunities to partner with like-minded organizations globally and expand our research and outreach capacity for our scientists and our students. These connections and current work in relevant marine research have increased the quality of the programming we share with students and our ability to mentor them in future career opportunities. As we expand our work and our outreach, we have also expanded our resources. Our cash reserves have increased significantly in the past 3 years, as our mission and outreach grows. We have grown our programming from 4 core courses to over 30 and we have increased our education and research staff and programming to meet the growing student need.

We have reached over 170,000 people since our inception. Now, we are focusing on smart growth that facilitates our core mission and aligns with our three strategic goals to inspire action by conducting and sharing critical research, educating students and engaging communities in conservation. This past year we served just under 10,000 students locally, despite the limitations of the pandemic and we were able to create a 4 month cash reserve, as well as expand our staff, programming and operating budget significantly. We continue to seek grant funding, partnerships and individual donors, in our effort to meet our current student needs and grow awareness about our work and mission. We have expanded our work from local creek clean ups and school presentations to micro-plastics pollution solution work, species and habitat conservation, cutting edge marine research and global partnerships. This year we are adding a permanent, marine research base in the Florida Keys and truly bringing the reef to the Rockies through research and educational expeditions at both of our facilities. We have more than tripled our operating budget in the last 5 years and gone from 1 full time staff member to 3 full time administrative staff and 5 staff scientists and educators. We also have hundreds of volunteers, who have helped us reach our strategic goals and increase our positive impact.

Financials

OCEAN FIRST 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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OCEAN FIRST INSTITUTE

Board of directors
as of 1/25/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Graham Casden

Ocean First Institute

Term: 2014 - 2024

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? Yes
  • 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? Yes
  • 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? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/13/2019

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
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data