INSPIRED IMPACT is an ongoing blog series that gives voice to social entrepreneurs and leaders of mission-driven organizations who are making an impact in their communities, industries, and around the world.

 



 

Graham CasdenGraham Casden is the Founder, Chief Visionary Officer of Ocean First. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube and learn more at oceanfirst.blue.

 

WHAT DO YOU DO?
Ocean First is a swim, dive, and travel operator located in Boulder, Colorado, and the first B Corp in the scuba industry. We also have a marine science curriculum company, Ocean First Education, which develops science curricula and experiential programs for K-12, and a non-profit, Ocean First Institute, that uses marine research to drive education and conservation initiatives.

 

WHY DO YOU DO IT?
Our mission is to create and support a community of ocean enthusiasts who are passionate about experiencing and preserving our marine environments. I started the business in 2005 after having fallen in love with scuba diving, but having the daunting realization that the industry was doing little to promote science education and ocean conservation. As an industry, we were literally certifying hundreds of thousands of people every year without telling them what they were seeing or why to even care.

 

WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
Ocean First is a leader in the dive industry, not only because of the practices that we do as a company, but because of the environmentally-conscious divers that we create. At every possible touch-point, from our low-chemical pool to our zero-waste events, we try to set an example for how to be as eco-friendly as possible. In addition to the hundreds of divers that we certify in our facility each year, we also have a program called TIDES that is being implemented in schools across the country as a way to bring scuba diving, marine science, and ocean conservation practices to students, thereby creating a wave of future ocean stewards.

 

WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
I was fortunate enough to have deep, meaningful experiences with the ocean at an early age. Many people in today’s fast-paced, get-up-and-go world have lost or never had an opportunity to develop that connection. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard about kids who live 50 miles from the sea, yet have never seen it. It’s hard to believe how many people will never put their face below the surface of the ocean.

 

WHAT’S YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
My vision is for Ocean First to become the largest and most prestigious dive operator in the world with locations spanning the globe, all the while fulfilling our mission of educating ocean enthusiasts and conserving wild places.

 

WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE?
The most important resource to make our vision a reality is people who, in addition to wanting to become scuba certified, are willing to do what it takes to become ocean stewards and spread the message and actions required to preserve our precious ocean resource.

 

WHAT IS (OR HAS BEEN) YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
As you can imagine, operating a dive shop in the middle of Colorado has its challenges. We are always working to educate our community about how everyone has a connection to the ocean, even in a land-locked state, and how the choices we make here can still have far-reaching consequences. The best thing we can do is to become educated about the underwater world and inspired to take action to preserve it for future generations.

 

WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
There is no time like the present. As Twain famously said, “20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.”

 

HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
If you are in Colorado, we would love for you to stop by our shop! But from anywhere in the world, you can support our mission by becoming educated about the ocean and its current plights and learn about how you can make an impact.

 


Orapin Marketing + Public Relations is an award-winning communications agency that generates awareness, engagement, and, ultimately, support for mission-driven organizations. We amplify their voice and reach so they can increase their impact. If you would like to be featured on INSPIRED IMPACT, reach out to hello@orapinmarketing.com.