Activist Spotlight
May 29 2015

Commit to Stand Up for What You Believe In


Hi my name is Sam Blakesley, and I am Surfrider because…The Ocean is a truly magical place, and I want to keep it that way. There is nothing else in the world that brings me bliss like being in the water does, so I feel responsible for ensuring that does not change, for others and myself, and generations to come.

Q: Why and when did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?

I became involved with Surfrider in 2012, and haven’t looked back since. It all started with a donation. I figured that for all the enjoyment, bliss, and love that the ocean provides me, a small donation for a good cause was the absolute least I could do. Shortly thereafter came an email regarding volunteer opportunities, specifically with the Blue Water Task Force. I went to the first meeting, took on as many responsibilities as I could handle, and ran with it. Next thing I knew, I was coordinating the program and am proud to be doing so.

Q: What are some local issues that are affecting your ocean, waves and beaches?

 The biggest issue to me is the fact that Cowell’s Beach, a beautiful and iconic Santa Cruz surf/recreation area, is #1 on the California Beach Bummer list due to elevated bacteria levels. This comes as a shock to many people who only know Santa Cruz for its natural beauty, and rightfully so. That being said, educating and influencing others to be part of a solution and ultimately getting Santa Cruz off the list entirely is a major goal of mine. Cowell’s beach is not an isolated problem, and stands as an example of many issues that effect our oceans, waves, and beaches all over, such as: Urban runoff, pollution, animal (and even human) waste, and eutrophication, just to name a few. These are just a few local, human caused issues that negatively affect the waters of Santa Cruz.

 Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?    

 There are so many opportunities to get involved with the community through Surfrider, that’s what makes it fun. Among the first projects I’ve worked on was a year-long collection of data, mapping bacteria levels along the San Lorenzo River, the main river flowing through the heart of Santa Cruz. I also work closely with our chapter chair/ education director going to many schools throughout the county in a continued effort to mentor and educate kids about the many aspects of environmental stewardship. I represent Surfrider in the Cowell’s Working Group, a collaboration of environmental organizations, county officials, and local water quality experts who meet monthly and strive to understand and solve the issue at Cowells, mentioned above. I am currently putting together a presentation that I will be giving at the Monterey Bay Sanctuary currents symposium about the Blue Water Task Force, and how citizens and science have been successfully integrated through the program. I also want to get involved with Ocean Friendly Gardens, because urban runoff is the cause of many elevated bacteria levels we see through BWTF, and I’d like to help mitigate that variable.

Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience (i.e., campaign, program, victory)?

It has been a big year for us as far as victories go, the reopening of Martins Beach and helping ban plastic bags in Northern California are a few of the big ones. I would have to say that the highlight of my Surfrider experience however, has simply been going to schools throughout the county and talking to kids in the K-12 level. To me, nothing has been more rewarding than seeing kids eyes light up as I talk about to them about Surfrider’s main goals: the protection of ocean, beaches, and waterways. It feels amazing to know that I am inspiring and influencing the next generation of future activists and stewards of the sea.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?

The most important thing that I tell others about Surfrider is to simply get involved. Volunteering for a better cause truly provides a sense of wholesome satisfaction that I’ve never experienced before joining this amazing organization. Committing to standing up for what you believe in and protecting what you love can open up doors that you never even knew existed. Getting involved with the Surfrider Foundation is one of the greatest things I’ve ever done for myself