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Rick Wilson

Senior Staff Scientist

I had been surfing in southern California for about two decades when I saw a notice in Surfer Magazine in 1985 for a new surfer-based environmental organization to protect the oceans, waves and beaches. I joined and I've been a member ever since. You should join us, too!


I was born in Long Beach, grew up in Fullerton and started surfing when I was in high school.  We mostly surfed Bolsa Chica, but then started heading south to the San Clemente/Trestles area.  Many present-day surfers may not realize that surfing at Trestles pre-1971 involved certain - uh - risks not present today.


After college (my only time away from southern California) I lived in Huntington Beach and that's when the Surfrider connection started.  I was lucky enough to interact with Tom Pratte on some issues and got involved with Gordon LaBedz on the Environmental Issues Team throughout much of the 1990s.


My working career as a chemical engineer, meanwhile, was evolving from "process engineering" to environmental engineering and from working for industry to working for environmental consulting firms.  Finally, after about 30 years of a good-paying but somewhat high stress environment, I burned out and started volunteering regularly in the Surfrider headquarters in San Clemente as I looked for a more satisfying career.  It all came together in 2002 when Surfrider posted a job offering for someone to research and write the State of the Beach report.  I also spent about 4 years as chairman of the Laguna Beach Chapter (now folded into the South Orange County Chapter) of Surfrider in the early 2000s.


The job expanded to include water quality issues, writing many Coastal A-Z (now Beachapedia) articles and involvement with many other issues and initiatives including our Not the Answer campaign and the Rise Above Plastics and Know Your H2O programs.


Finally, over 30 years after college, I have found my dream job!