Beach Access, Coastal Preservation, Ocean Protection, Plastic Pollution, Water Quality, Youth
May 22 2015

Surfrider College Clubs take to Capitol Hill, Part 2

by Ericka Canales

Cal Poly College Club Chair Alex Ly shares his experience attending 5th Annual Blue Vision Summit in Washington, DC May 11-14th. This is a 4 part series.

Alex Ly, Cal Poly Club Chair, Graduating Senior

Words cannot describe how appreciative I feel to have participated in the 5th Blue Vision Summit in Washington D.C. alongside a variety of ocean champion organizations fighting against issues such as oil exploration, seismic testing, plastic pollution, and pirate fishing. Attending the Healthy Ocean Hill Day opened my eyes to the vast opportunities to make a difference both locally and in our Capital. Being a part of over 150 meetings with Senators and Representatives really showed me the support that our ocean has from advocates such as you or me.

However, one of my favorite parts was seeing a strong representation of youth activists at the summit. It was absolutely amazing to see kids from an elementary school in Canada asking questions of the panelists, students from the New York Harbor School actively going out to protect our ocean wildlife, my fellow Surfrider Club peers Lauren Mae Henry, Alexandra Brooks and Kevin Piper, from University of North Carolina Wilmington and Cal State Channel Islands; and last but not least the students from the Colorado Ocean Coalition, that even without an ocean miles away were advocating for protection.

Originally, I wanted to attend because I was curious about local and national issues revolving around ocean advocacy and environmental protection. As an Industrial Engineer at Cal Poly, I feel as though my curriculum didn’t give me as much knowledge as I could have liked about specific environmental topics. I wanted to bring this information back to the Cal Poly Surfrider Club to empower them to build their voice on these issues. Not only did I learn about these topics, but I was actually taught how to share it using effective storytelling, social media mediums, and more! I also had the opportunity to discuss my Senior Project at Cal Poly involving redesigning/re-thinking the way that we recycle in our local communities, sharing the wins and challenges that I had run into. I hope to continue developing my model after graduation in June this year. I truly believing that we are moving in the right direction towards sustainability, and as a young leader I am more motivated than ever to protect our oceans, waves, and beaches.