Coastal Preservation, Ocean Protection, Youth
May 20 2015

Surfrider College Clubs, Chapters & Staff take to Capitol Hill

by Ericka Canales

On May 11-14th, numerous Surfrider staff, chapter leaders from Vancouver to DC, and four college students from Surfrider College Clubs from CA to NC attended the Blue Vision Summit in DC. Hosted by the Blue Frontier Campaign, the Blue Vision Summit brought together ocean advocates, scientists, and members of industry to discuss ways to advance marine conservation.

On May 13th, Blue Vision attendees participated in the largest Ocean Hill Day ever, including over 150 meetings with congressional offices about ocean issues. Surfrider volunteers and staff participated in over 60 of them. To read more about Surfrider's legislative priorities, please visit our federal webpage. Following the meetings, attendees united for a Hands Across the Sand event to demonstrate opposition to new offshore drilling. Surfrider representatives also presented on panels on Youth Leadership and Ocean Recreation and Conservation.

Over the next four days we will post a story from each of the college student's experiences at the Summit and lobbying at Capitol Hill. This is a 4-part series:

Lauren "Mae" Henry, Graduating Senior, UNCW Club Chair

I was asked to represent Surfrider and young ocean activists on the Youth Panel for the Blue Vision Summit in DC. Through sharing my experiences and stories of our success as a Surfrider Club I hoped to inspire more youth to get involved with ocean conservation and the Surfrider Foundation. Reflecting on my plane trip back to North Carolina, I was truly amazed at what I learned, accomplished and discovered in just these two days.  Blue Vision Summit taught me a lot of things I would have never learned sitting in a classroom. I am extremely fortunate to have been part of such an amazing group of ocean advocates and I have to thank Surfrider for that opportunity.

My favorite part of the Blue Vision Summit was taking part in the Hill day as one of the many ocean advocates storming Capital Hill to meet with senators and congressmen about ocean conservation issues such as drilling off the Atlantic. Lobbying truly gave me a confidence to work with policy makers that I hope to carry with me for the rest of my career. Some congressmen were a breath of fresh-air, others left me feeling as though we were moving nowhere. I still felt regardless that just by showing up in their office we were truly making a difference.

Ten meetings, eight hours, seven miles of hall walking, and nine blisters later, not only did I have the feeling of accomplishment, but also the lack of feeling in my toes.

This conference has shown me just how many career options an ocean advocate has. The members and staff of Surfrider were truly amazing which made me fall even deeper in love with the Surfrider organization. I hope I will always be involved with this organization, as a member, chapter leader, or maybe one day as CEO or environmental director. Though I wont be searching for any sort of professional position for another year due to my upcoming participation in the Marine Conservation and Policy Masters Program at Stony Brook University, once I am job-ready I hope to find myself working for Surfrider or one of the other influential non-profits present at the Blue Vision Summit.