Activist Spotlight
August 14 2015

It’s our playground

Todd Remmel

Chapter: Palm Beach County

Volunteer (and/or Member) Since: 1987

Q: Why and when did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?

Growing up at the beach in Ocean City, MD in the 1980’s and early 90’s, the beach and the bay were always important my family. I remember passing out flyers to help save a local wetland from being developed, saving baby turtles that had fallen underneath our deck, and most importantly keeping our beach clean. The mission of Surfrider really struck a personal tone and I was able to identify the value of the organization way before I attended my first meeting or beach cleanup.

Q: What are some local issues that are affecting your ocean, waves and beaches?

Unfortunately, I know we have several physical issues to mention, however on a positive note I’m lucky to live in a paradise of tropical blue water and beautiful beaches (and some VERY fun surf spots). Here in ‘well-developed’ South Florida the threat of coastal construction is a continuous topic of concern as well as nourishment projects with poor oversight, monitoring or enforcement. I personally feel we need more “environmental protection” and less permitting from government agencies. Water quality issues related to the management of Lake Okeechobee and surrounding agricultural interests have also posed a serious threat to our local coastal ecosystems. Ongoing nourishment efforts threaten the health and survival of our coral reefs due to turbidity violations and cable drags. The disposal of cigrettes, single-use plastics and trash on our beaches impact our seabirds, sea turtles and other species who mistaken plastics for food. I’ve learned it’s important to educate both children and adults, especially the decision-makers, when an issue threatens the well-being of our oceans, waves and beaches.

 Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

Singer Island Breakwaters campaign, opposing poor coastal armoring efforts, Hands Across The Sand, Ocean Friendly Gardens, Rise Above Plastics, outreach and presentations to school kids, participation in stakeholder efforts such as Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Beach Management Agreement (Palm Beach, FL) and the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative, to name a few.

Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience (i.e., campaign, program, victory)?

During my Surfrider experience there have been many highlights. Probably the proudest was growing an active board from merely less than a handful to over a dozen incredible and dedicated volunteers. The second awesome experience would have to be our Singer Island Breakwaters campaign “Stop the Breakwaters” and the evening our chapter and supporters (as well as hundreds supporting the experimental $30 million dollar project) attended the county commission meeting to watch the commissioners vote 5-2 in our favor.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?

The message I consistently relay to others regarding Surfrider Foundation and its mission is you don’t HAVE to be a surfer to be involved. You simply just have to care about our oceans, waves and beaches and recognize the importance of protecting and preserving them. I mention the fact that I’ve met some really awesome like-minded people as well as some of my best friends through the volunteer opportunities this organization has provided. Surfrider Foundation is a second family.

Q: Will you complete the following sentence: Hi my name is Todd, and I am Surfrider because…

...the oceans, waves and beaches are my playground. I have experienced many of life’s most memorable moments in these environments (including marriage proposals, ceremonies at sea, weddings, epic surf sessions, diving, etc.) and I plan on making sure my son and future generations have the opportunity to enjoy the species diversity, happiness, and soul refreshment it provides for myself and others.