We had the good fortune of connecting with Vicki Nichols Goldstein and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Vicki Nichols, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
I have always loved the ocean and tried to do my part to protect it. Since I was a child, I felt connected to the ocean as I played in the surf, rode the waves, and enjoyed the bounty of the sea. As I got older, I recognized that the ocean wasn’t invincible – there were numerous problems with pollution and overfishing to name a few. I went on to get my Masters’s degree at Yale in ocean policy and found career opportunities to connect my ocean protection passion with my work. After moving to Colorado with my husband who was hired to be a facility member at CU, I realized that if I was to follow my passion, that I had to create the opportunity. In 2011, I started the Colorado Ocean Coalition and through collaborative efforts, we helped start numerous other inland chapters in the US. In 2017, we rebranded to become the Inland Ocean Coalition with a mission to create an inland movement that builds land-to-sea stewardship. My core concept of the Inland Ocean Coalition is simply that you don’t have to see the ocean to protect it.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I direct the Inland Ocean Coalition where we are building an inland movement that builds land-to-sea stewardship. My job is a combination of tracking and advocating for ocean and water issues then conveying opportunities for involvement to our volunteers and supporters. I started the Colorado Ocean Coalition in 2011 and in 2017 after a number of other communities wanted to join the movement, we transitioned to the Inland Ocean Coalition. Our network of 15 chapters around the country and more coming online is set up to utilize what we have accomplished and developed in Colorado. This way, if someone wants to start a new chapter, no one has to start from scratch. My job is unique since we are mostly working with inland communities who care about the ocean and have no idea how to engage. It is really fun to see the expression on people’s faces when they hear that no matter where they live, they can still protect the ocean. I think that my job is fairly easy because I love what I do. It is hard to fundraise, sometimes hard to collaborate on sticky ocean policy issues, and challenging to work with political leaders who do not have the same ocean conservation ethic, but if you believe in what you do, it makes it easy to lead from your heart. I love the ocean and I love my job. One of the key things that I have learned along the way is to not be intimidated. We all start with a dream and it takes baby steps to get there. Spend time with people that you admire and understand where they came from and the various educational and career steps that they took. Volunteer with organizations, intern at businesses – be available to learn and experience. Keep in mind that there are many leaders in organizations, agencies, and institutions, so don’t just look at the top tier for guidance. I want the world to know that you don’t have to see the ocean to protect it! Ocean and climate issues need to be addressed on many levels—coastal and inland, as well as at the grassroots and federally. The Inland Ocean Coalitions unique niche allows us to work with chapters and supporters to convey to our Congressional leaders that all of us have a stake in ocean protection and that protecting our ocean is key to mitigating the impacts of climate change. In essence, we build community-based ocean conservation constituencies throughout the country. The Inland Ocean Coalition is actively working on issues that allow us to utilize our disproportionate influence in inland areas to address important ocean conservation priorities including marine protected areas, plastic pollution reduction, seeing the ocean as a solution to climate change, and strengthening our fisheries management system.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There are so many cool places in my area. I am biased – I live in North Boulder and a few of my favorite places are the Boulder Reservoir and Wonderland Lake – I am drawn to water! I love paddleboarding on the Rez because there are limited motorboats and you can see a vast number of birds including white pelicans, herons, hawks, bald eagles, and many others. Wonderland Lake is an amazing natural area where the winter birding is off of the charts! There are also amazing hiking trails all around. I also love the neighboring restaurants including Baco’s, The North End at 4580, Dagabi Cucina, Wapo’s, and many more. There is also great mountain biking, cool pubs, wine tastings, and cider shops where you could spend hours on end having fun. You have the perfect microcosm in North Boulder. And, you can get downtown in a matter of minutes if you are looking for more of an urban groove.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people who have inspired and helped me that it is difficult to name one, but if I really think about it, I have to go back to my grandfather, Lew Liber, Pop Pop. He hunted, fished, and spent a lot of time on the ocean and in the woods. He had an ethic that you can take from the environment, but you have to give back. He would trap snapping turtles, and on harvest day, I would be responsible for collecting the eggs and putting them into an enclosed space in our field across the street where I would water them until they hatched. It was so cool to see these little snapping turtles emerge out of the sand. I would collect them and we would take them back to the estuaries where they came from. He shared the strong belief that we are all part of the circle of life and we have to do our part to keep nature healthy. It is a circle of life that we should all respect.