If you’ve worked in the nonprofit world for ten years like I have, you get accustomed to saving money every step of the way. You work so hard to find funding to run your programs, it becomes standard operating procedure to search for the best deals, conserving funds as much as possible. Needless to say, you don’t usually get a chance to purchase top-of-the-line outdoor equipment and gear.

Thankfully, Columbia Sportswear is changing that through The Ocean Foundation’s Field Sponsorship Program. Columbia Sportswear is donating thousands of dollars of new gear to The Ocean Foundation projects each year, helping us achieve our missions! Ocean Connectors has been the lucky recipient of a variety of Columbia Sportswear gear – jackets, backpacks, shoes, hats, luggage, and more – to help our team in the field, working to educate, inspire, and connect undeserved schoolchildren with the ocean. For a small project like Ocean Connectors, where we scramble every year to obtain the supplies we need, this in-kind donation has revolutionized our work in the U.S. and Mexico. The high-quality, durable products made by Columbia Sportswear are perfect for our whale watching field trips, kayaking tours, and habitat restoration program, where our team braves the elements to get kids outside and excited about ocean conservation. As someone who is used to searching for bargains, I have never been able to purchase such great supplies and gear, but Columbia Sportswear has put their products within our reach by partnering with The Ocean Foundation.


A top priority for the Ocean Connectors team is sun protection and, like many of The Ocean Foundation’s project, you can usually find us in, on, or under the water. Just last week I led a group of eight people on our Sea Turtle Eco Tour, which includes a half-day kayaking excursion within the Chula Vista Wildlife Refuge of San Diego Bay, where we try to spot the 60 green sea turtles that inhabit our area. The Ocean Connectors Eco Tour program raises funds to support our free education programs for underserved youth. I wore my Columbia water shoes aboard the kayak, carried my Columbia shoulder bag, and donned my Columbia hat, all of which made me better prepared and equipped to lead our guests on an exciting, personalized kayaking tour.


Thanks to Columbia Sportswear, our team is safe from the sun, wind, and rain. We can continue to focus on fundraising to cover the essential costs of our work – things like waterproof science journals, native plants, salary for our team members, and admission fees to local aquariums. We are proud to wear Columbia Sportswear gear in the field, and to spread the word about how this philanthropic company is changing the game for projects of The Ocean Foundation.