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!