The 2016 Florida Chapter Conference brought together nearly sixty activists from the eleven Florida Chapters for training, networking, leadership development, and fun! The 2016 Conference was took place in sunny St. Petersburg, Florida November 4th-6th. The 2016 Florida Chapter Conference kicked off with a collaborative forum on ocean protection hosted in cooperation with the Sierra Club's Marine Action Team and the Florida Coastal & Ocean Coalition. Participants learned about implementation of the National Ocean Policy's objectives, from fisheries to coastal adaptation. Following the forum, conference participants gave back to the local community by visiting a local spoil island and helping with invasive plant removal. All the locals were thankful- especially the pod of Bottlenose Dolphins that escorted their boat to the island!
The Florida Chapters are spread across the state- from the Gulf to the Atlantic, and even one that is landlocked! While each chapter faces their own local challenges, from stopping shoreline armoring to adapting to sea level rise to making sure coastal waters are safe for surfing- the Chapter Conference unites them in their desire to protect the coast and ocean for future generations. This unique opportunity allows chapters to network, collaborate, and access new training and resources to scale-up their capacity for change.
The Conference focused on a variety of coastal and ocean issues including shoreline armoring, beach access, dredge and fill, climate change and sea level rise, water quality, and single-use plastics. The chapters also received training on social media, communication, and influencing decisionmakers. Conference speakers included St. Petersburg City Council Vice-Chair Darden Rice, author and environmentalist David Helvarg, and Surfrider CEO Chad Nelsen- to name just a few. Activists also got a sneak preview of exciting, new legislation that Surfrider will be working on in the 2017 Legislative Session. Of course, the conference isn't all work! In the evening, the Suncoast Chapter hosted a tour of downtown St. Pete and the group gathered for brews and pizza.
Thank you to the activists and chapters that were able to join!
If you are interested in supporting our chapter leadership development efforts in any region and sponsoring a chapter leadership conference, please contact Tara D'Andrea.