Activist Spotlight
December 18 2014

Taking it to the Capitol

Eleanor Hines
Journey began in 2007
Chapter: Northwest Straits, Bellingham WA

Hi my name is Eleanor, and I am Surfrider because… I want to make a difference by protecting the ocean.

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

I’ve always been drawn to water and outdoor recreation. Studying environmental toxicology, I was excited for our chapter’s Blue Water Task Force. I've been involved since 2007. And, I continue to be involved because there is so much potential to make a difference in and within my local community by protecting the watery places I love to play.

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

Whatcom County has several beaches suffering from high levels of bacteria in our nearshore recreational areas. Our chapter has taken our Blue Water Task Force program to the next level with an education and outreach program that partners with local entities to help beach goers be a part of the solution rather than contribute to the problem. Other major issues we face include beach litter/marine debris, oil and coal exports that pose a lot of risk to our waterways and intricate navigation channels, waterfront cleanup of Superfund sites, water quantity issues, bulk heading/armoring, coastal resiliency with sea level rise, shellfish harvest issues, and sea star wasting syndrome and other marine diseases that may spread more easily with ocean acidification.

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

I’ve worked on many Surfrider projects including: Blue Water Task Force, Rise Above Plastics, No Coal Exports, No Oil Exports, Hands Across the Sand, Snowrider, and written many letters to elected officials, among more.

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

While there have been countless highlights being involved with Surfrider, such as banning plastics bags in Bellingham, the most recent, and perhaps culminating, highlight for me was being given the opportunity as a volunteer to present on how my chapter has built up our Blue Water Task Force program as a model citizen science program with other Surfrider staff presentations at a national conference in Washington D.C. Following the conference, I was invited to tag along with Surfrider staff to meet with my state senator’s offices. It felt empowering to be on Capitol Hill sharing my local Surfrider chapter stories and expressing my concerns about protecting our oceans with politicians who listened and provided feedback. I am always in awe of Surfrider’s model, with a two-way path between local chapter grass roots activism and Surfrider on the national level. For me, after seven years of Surfrider involvement, my week in D.C. was another moment of awe and realization of just how much Surfrider can really make a difference on so many scales, from the local to the national level.

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

You have to save what you love. If you love water (like I do) and recognize our essential needs for both fresh and marine water quality and quantity, then Surfrider is a great place to make a difference, no matter what scale you want to get involved. There’s room for the folks who want to attend an occasional beach cleanup to the volunteers who want to take it to the city, state, regional, or national scale.