Youth Network

Surfrider Foundation launched the Youth Network in 2008 in response to overwhelming interest across the country from young people that wished to become more involved in Surfrider Foundation’s activities on their campuses and communities. The program has grown to a wide range of activities including organizing school clubs and initiatives based on project-based learning. These range from beach clean ups to eliminating single use plastics on-campus to greening your campus.
Intro Get Involved Projects Contact

Surfrider Foundation launched the Youth Network in 2008 in response to overwhelming interest across the country from young people that wished to become more involved with the Surfrider Foundation.   Our Youth Network 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 network 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 Network 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 Network 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

Get Involved

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.

Ready to get started?

Submit a request to tell us how you want to get involved!

Already approved club?

Your Club needs to sign up and/or renew your individual student memberships

Starting a Surfrider School Club Information

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: 3 student officers, 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.

Ryan Cruse, Youth Network Manager,

Surfrider Presents @ South Carolina  Aquarium Youth Summit

Surfrider Presents @ South Carolina Aquarium Youth Summit

Spark thoughtful discussions about plastic pollution and environmental stewardship in your classroom by engaging your students in the YOUTH SUMMIT via live stream from South Carolina Aquarium. Positive outlooks and ideas shared by YOUTH SUMMIT speakers - co-founder of a global nonprofit, a plastic-free mermaid, a company that makes "nets into decks," and a breakout social media star - will inspire the next generation of progressive citizens and next-level innovators. Designed for students considering their place in the world and how they can take small steps to improve it, Breaking Down Plastic's Youth Summit is an essential opportunity.

On March 30, 2017 at 10:20 am EST, YOUTH SUMMIT speakers will share their stories with students directly in their classrooms through our live stream.

Surfrider Foundation's CEO Chad Nelsen and Legal Director Angela Howe will be speaking as well.

Be the voice of the next generation! If you are a middle or high school student who loves the ocean, join us on March 30 for the #BreakingDownPlastic Youth Summit livestream. Register at this link today!

One Foot At A Time

One Foot At A Time

In honor of Rise Above Plastics Month, Surfrider would like to engage with YOU, the next generation of coastal defenders, through our campaign Long Live The Beach. Submitted projects below will be shared on Surfrider’s national social media channels.

We have a couple of ways you can TAKE ACTION to bring awareness to our Plastic Pollution Issues:

1. Collect plastic from the beach or your every day efforts and create a One Foot At A Time Art Project. Download Template. Then submit to: or share with us on Instagram: #surfriderclubs #riseaboveplastics

2. Create Reusable Bags out of Tshirts. Click Here for How-To Video. Then submit to: or share with us on Instagram: #surfriderclubs #riseaboveplastics

3. Produce short video content that shows you or your club in action, whether it is a beach cleanup, hosting an event, discussing threats that are facing your local beach which your club is tackling and share with people how they can take a stand to protect our coasts. The only requirements to the video are: making sure that they are :60 seconds or less, promote Surfrider in a positive manner, include your club name and end with “Long Live The Beach”. The video can be captured either from your phone, computer or camera via Youtube, Instagram video, etc. Email videos to

Here is a sample video:

Here are some tips for taking the video:
If you use a smart phone, please:
Video should be shot in landscape mode, with the camera horizontal.
Don't zoom in - you will look pixelated!
Try to make the phone as stable as possible - if you have a tripod or place on a high surface and take the video.
Use natural light when possible!
Try to be as close to the phone as possible to get the best recording.  If you have the access to another phone, use one phone for video and use the other and its "voice memo app" to  record while you are taking the video.
If you use your laptop - you can download QuickTime (free download) in an record using your computer webcam with good sound quality.

CSUCI Club Snowy Plover Preparation Clean Up

CSUCI Club Snowy Plover Preparation Clean Up

On Saturday, February 20th, the Surfrider Foundation CSUCI Club teamed up with the California State parks to clean up Mandalay State Beach, also known as Oxnard Shores, in preparation for the Snowy Plover nesting season. This clean up was spearheaded by the CSUCI Surfrider Club President Kevin Piper and Vice President Rose Waller. The two strong willed leaders reached more than 16 volunteers to come out and support the cause including the club’s treasurer Eric Bidwell and other CSUCI students.

The hardworking crew picked up a total of 457 pounds of trash in just two hours! This cleared the path for the Snowy Plover, which is a threatened small shorebird. They can be found nesting along the shores during breeding season from March to September, but are threatened by human activity and pollution. Trash can contaminate nesting and humans can unknowingly crush eggs and disturb nests. Those working at California State Parks are providing a fencing around the area to protect the nest, while Surfrider made it habitable. Thanks to the hard work done by the club members and volunteers, the Snowy Plover will have a much easier and healthier time nesting this upcoming breeding season.

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  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 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 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 ( 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.

Recognition Award

Recognition Award

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!

Youth Network Updates