Youth Leadership & Engagement
Surfrider Foundation launched the youth engagement program in 2008 in response to overwhelming interest across the country from young people that wished to become more involved in Surfrider Foundation. Surfrider Foundation’s Youth Leadership Program creates a platform to meet the demand by young people for opportunities to influence environmental action through service, development, leadership, civic engagement and organizing by way of collective empowerment of our chapter network.
This program focuses on the development of environmental stewardship projects - at their schools, campuses or local communities. These projects range from beach clean ups to plastic free campus to greening your campus. Project-based learning helps teaches young people to:
- Develop awareness of issues affecting our waterways & coastlines;
- Construct collaborative solutions on what they learn;
- Communication skills that move others to action; and
- Most importantly, be able to make a difference for something their interests and passions.
Our success to affect widespread action to protect our coasts comes in part by motivating ordinary young people to take action in local coastal conservation. The Youth Leadership Program sets the stage to ensure our network grows and builds the next generation of leaders and provides us with the opportunity to expand beyond the coastal zone.
Support for the Youth Leadership Program is made possible through a generous donations from the Dillon Henry and Windsong Foundation. The Dillon Henry Foundation was created in memory of Dillon Henry -- a surfer, teen activist and committed Surfrider supporter with a love of education. To learn more about Dillon and the Dillon Henry Foundation please visit www.dillonslist.org
We are looking for students who are passionate about our ocean and looking for leadership opportunities and fun! There are many ways to get involved with the Surfrider Foundation and any one or all of them helps contribute to our core mission of engaged activism.
- Start a Surfrider Foundation Club at your school
- Students & Teachers can participate in our Google Hang Out Sessions with special speakers from all over that want to chat with you about amazing projects
- Sign up for Action Alerts https://secured.surfrider.org/action/
- Want to do something cool over school break? How about volunteering with us
- Participate in a Youth Ocean Conservation Summit
- Volunteer with you Local Chapter http://www.surfrider.org/chapters
- Set up a tribute and ask your friends to donate in lieu of birthday gifts to show support for all our amazing coastal victories
Ready to get started?
Submit a request to tell us how you want to get involved!
Already have an approved Surfrider School club and need to sign up or renew your individual student waiver www.surfrider.org/clubs/signup
Starting a Surfrider School Club
Students, administrators and teachers can start a club at their local school. Every district works a little differently, but most schools club programs need to be approved by the school administration first. Visit your school office and ask questions about the process for getting a Surfrider Foundation club approved. You need to fulfill certain requirements in order to receive an official charter from us.
Where do I find the club registration information?
Once you've filled out the request form above the criteria is emailed to you. The criterion is simple: minimum of one student officer, 10 members, and a dedicated environmental service project for the year.
Do I need an advisor?
We do require an advisor for school clubs. At the elementary school level, any club activities must have an adult chaperone present. This is similar to typical school field trip requirements.
Is there a cost to start a club?
There is no membership requirement. We do encourage you to still become a member.
Do I need to have parental waivers signed for all club members?
Yes. Anyone who participates at any sponsored or official Surfrider Foundation Club activity must sign a waiver form. Please contact the Youth Manager for copies.
October 05 2015
Surfrider won’t stand idly by in the face of this plastic epidemic. That’s why we’re not just cleaning up the plastic already littering our beaches, but helping people and communities stop plastic pollution before it reaches the ocean, beaches and waves we all love. Our Rise Above Plastics program responds to the plastic litter in our ocean and beaches. And you can help solve this threat during Raptober.
May 22 2015
UNCW Surfrider College Club member and Youth Leadership Program summer intern Alexandra Brooks shares her experience attending 5th Annual Blue Vision Summit in Washington, DC May 11-14th. This is a 4 part series.
May 22 2015
Cal State Channel Island College Club Chair Kevin Piper shares his experience attending 5th Annual Blue Vision Summit in Washington, DC May 11-14th. This is a 4-part series.
May 22 2015
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.
May 20 2015
On May 11-14th Surfrider staff and four college students from a variety of Surfrider Clubs across the US attend 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. This is a 4-part series.
May 05 2015
The Vancouver Island Chapter is using their Blue Water Youth Task Force water testing program to promote environmental stewardship in youth and ensure safe and healthy access to local coastal habitats. This video documents how engaged the participating kids are in both the water quality testing and protecting the beach, coastal habitats and marine life.
January 07 2015
The Coos Bay Chapter has teamed up with a science class at Bandon High School to increase youth engagement in local water quality issues.
March 26 2012
We love receiving videos from students who understand the connection between what we do on land and how it affects the ocean. Here is a "First Flush" video from "Team Marine" at Santa Monica High School and an Urban Runoff video from the "Green Team" at Hughes Middle School in Long Beach, CA. Way to go kids!
Raptober: October is Rise Above Plastics Month
Plastic lasts forever.
It doesn’t biodegrade, and no naturally occurring organisms can break it down. As a result, churning in the five oceanic gyres is an estimated 100 million tons of marine litter which is there to stay. What’s more, an estimated 20 million tons of plastic litter enter the ocean each year. This plastic pollution entangles, or is ingested by the sea creatures we love, harming or slowly killing them.
It is estimated that Americans go through about 100 billion plastic bags a year, or 360 bags per year for every man, woman and child in the country. And those plastic bags and single-use plastic bottles are ending up in our ocean.
Be Part of the Solution!
Surfrider won’t stand idly by in the face of this plastic epidemic. That’s why we’re not just cleaning up the plastic already littering our beaches, but helping people and communities stop plastic pollution before it reaches the ocean, beaches and waves we all love. Our Rise Above Plastics program responds to the plastic litter in our ocean and beaches. And you can help solve this threat:
1. Create a RAP Campaign at your school to reduce single use plastics
2. Hold a Beach Clean Cleanup
3. Use the plastic collected to enter our Instagram Plastic Art Contest. Show your creativity and help to raise awareness of the effects of plastic pollution. Enter to have a chance to win some cool prizes.
- Arrange, glue or puzzle the pieces of plastic trash you’ve collected to make a unique piece of art. Maybe it’s an art sculpture or mosaic. Get creative!
- Having trouble with ideas? CLICK HERE to download and print one of our mosaic templates. If you have a lot of trash, maybe download and fill all three.
- Take a photo of your plastic art piece and post to Instagram with the hashtag #RiseAbovePlastics or email your photo to email@example.com. Be sure to include your full name and the location you collected the trash. All photos must be submitted by Wednesday, October 29th.
- If you do not plan to keep your art piece(s), be sure to properly dispose in an appropriate waste container designated for recycling.
4. Make recycled bags out of old t-shirts to avoid using plastic bags
5. Designate a reusable bottle day at your school – encourage other students to bring to school as well
6. Create a Movie Event and show Into the Gyres or the Story of Stuff
7. As a finale to the month we will hold an interative Google Hang Out Session October 27th with the filmmaker and scientists of Intro the Gyres. You must contact firstname.lastname@example.org to register for this online event in advance.
Get the facts, show a movie, create beach cleanup and enter the Plastic Art Contest — and encourage your friends to join the fun!
The Rise Above Plastics program (RAP) is the Surfrider Foundation’s response to the problem of plastic litter in our ocean and marine environments. The goal of the program is to educate the public on the impacts single-use plastics have on marine environments, and how individuals can make changes in their daily lives and within their communities that will stem the flow of plastics into the environment. RAP also calls upon people to reduce their plastic footprint by reducing or eliminating the use of products such as single-use plastic water bottles and plastic bags.
East Hampton Elementary 2014 Projects
East Hampton Elementary began their year with presentations and announcements of our goal to rise above plastics by conducted a year-long bottle challenge between homerooms. The plastic prior to this were being tossed out with all the trash. Our challenge allowed us to recycle the bottles and collect deposits which was donated to the Smile Train Organization which helps millions of children who suffer from cleft lip and palate. We also hosted a movie night showing “Bag It” at the East Hampton Middle school this past spring.
Additionally they participated in the Shoreline Sweep organized by Dell Cullum (http://www.imaginationnature.com/1/post/2014/03/cleaning-the-sands-of-time-2014-shoreline-sweep-the-film.html) and the Cedar Point Beach Cleanup. They also assisted the Group for the South Fork to help out with a beach grass planting at Mecox Beach in Sagaponack. Lastly they planted flowers in the school courtyard. It was a great start to the first year of their program, and they are hoping for a greater year of accomplishments this year connecting with the environment club at the East Hampton High School.
When students established Cal Poly Surfrider 6 years ago, it was one of the first collegiate club of the Surfrider Foundation established in the nation. The club recently received from the University the ASI 2013-14 CLUB RECOGNITION AWARD.
The Club has approximately 40 members, with 15 to 20 of these on average in attendance at bi-weekly meetings. These students have demonstrated commitment to community service on the Cal Poly campus, in San Luis Obispo, and on the Central Coast region by way of their regularly scheduled beach cleanups (1 per quarter on average) at various locations such as Morro Bay (the Rock and Morro Strand State Beach), Pirates Cove, Avila Beach, Pismo Beach, and Shell Beach.
The club has spearheaded its community service on the university campus through its “Ocean Friendly Gardens” project, drawn from a campaign by Surfrider national to demonstrate and promote low-water, drought-tolerant, and native plant landscaping as a way to eliminate non-point source pollution and runoff, which via storm and irrigation runoff is the major source of chemical and bacterial ocean pollution and unhealthful water quality. The OFG project is currently in progress. The club has adopted the landscape area along Building 192 and the Highland Drive entrance to campus, a site of high visibility to students and visitors. Club members have begun site conversion and are in the process of obtaining signage to educate the community and promote awareness of OFG principles. This club project marks an innovative initiative in line with efforts by many major metropolitan water districts and local governments in California. It is also very forward looking, as the state and region grapple with significant water shortages this year. The OFG project has the potential to transform much of the Cal Poly campus, reduce campus water use, and advance the university’s long-term goal of sustainability. In this regard, the members of the Surfrider club have put themselves at the forefront of campus leadership and may leave a campus legacy for decades.
The campus Surfrider club has also worked in community service through close partnership with the SLO Surfrider Foundation chapter to promote beach cleanups, to attend city council open forums to support a prospective ban on polystyrene containers (a major source of trash found at beaches and in ocean waters), and public grassroots events, such as the Annual “Avila Pier to Pier Paddle” and “Hands Across the Sand.” “Hands Across The Sand” is a particularly exciting event as it serves global community service and awareness. The event, scheduled for May 17th, will champion clean energy solutions to society’s fossil fuel dependence, as people around the world will join hands at 12 p.m. local time to say NO to offshore oil drilling, hydraulic fracking, the Keystone XL pipeline, tar sands mining, coal fired power plants, and mountaintop removal coal mining and instead say YES to investment and development of clean energy resources. Club members also participated in Cal Poly Earth Week with Empower Poly and many other environmental clubs to raise awareness among the student body. In each of these efforts, the Surfrider club has placed itself in the lead of Cal Poly’s student groups as it has connected its service activities to the local community and also to the state, nation, and world.
Through these efforts the club demonstrates commitment, motivation, forward-looking vision, and a dedication to sustaining and raising Cal Poly’s profile as a source of service to California and the world.
The club includes a wide variety of students as members, ranging from Environmental Engineering, Environmental Protection, Forestry, Marine Biology and other science related fields all the way to majors such as Political Science, Journalism, and other Liberal Arts. With this diverse group, the students in our club are able to apply what they learn in the classroom to real world conservation and environmental service efforts. This highly collaborative and interdisciplinary approach shows through the club’s interests and activities (e.g., laws addressing coastal fracking and polystyrene bans, Ocean Friendly Gardens, conducting ocean water sample testing (the Blue Water Task Force), and protests against offshore seismic testing in 2013.)
The club has also facilitated a small yet growing network of graduated alumni, who offer internship opportunities to current students. This includes internship type positions offered by SLO Surfrider to landscape architecture and horticulture majors. And it includes an internship offered by Brown & Caldwell, an environmental engineering firm.
By bringing together a variety of students in fellowship and connecting current and future students to alumni, CP Surfrider embodies the university’s commitment to academic excellence.
Congrats to the Cal Poly Surfrider Foundation Club!