Activist Spotlight
June 29 2015

It all starts onshore

"I am Surfrider because not only do I want to be able to enjoy everything about the beach, our ocean and our lakes, but I want my kids and their kids and their kids to STILL have an ocean to enjoy."

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

I started volunteering in Florida about 10 years ago as a way to give back to the ocean and the beach that has given so much to me.  When I first heard about Surfrider, I was instantly hooked and drawn to the mission and values of this great organization.  When I moved to NC, I knew I wanted to start a chapter here in Charlotte.  There are so many people that spend their weekends and summers on the NC and SC coasts, plus it all starts ONSHORE.  I love showing people here how our actions 200 miles from the coast affect not only our watershed, but our favorite beaches as well.

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

Currently, the Coal Ash spills are all you hear and read about.  The Catawba River is one of the top 5 most polluted rivers in the US and efforts to clean it up are being hung up in State and Federal courts.  The sad thing is, the Catawba River is connected to Mountain Island Lake, which supplies Charlotte’s drinking water, and it also feeds into the other river systems that eventually drain into the Atlantic.  Additionally, as a large urban area, our watershed and concrete jungle lead to major issues with runoff and pollution into the Catawba and our 3 large lakes that surround Charlotte.

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on? 

As a new chapter (started in 2013), we are just starting our campaigns, however we are currently planning a large scale Ocean Friendly Garden project as well as getting our Rise Above Plastics program kicked into high gear.  Our goal is to eventually see a plastic bag ban here in Charlotte.  Our largest project you could say is getting Charlotteans educated about Surfrider Foundation and realizing that we are more than a surf club.  

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

By far the most rewarding and highlight of my experience has been starting this chapter here in Charlotte.  I’m so proud of where we are in just one year.  The friendships I have made as well as the great group of activists that have helped to make our chapter what it is, gives me goosebumps.  I’m stoked to see what’s ahead, and I know with the people we have involved with the chapter and the excitement I see when we are out in the community and tell people what we are about, there is some great things in store for Charlotte and the NC and SC coasts.

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

You don’t have to surf, you just have to care!!!!!!!  Being 200 miles from the nearest ocean has been our biggest hurdle to jump as we try to get people involved.  Once we start engaging people and explain that we are here to protect AND enjoy not only our beaches, but our lakes and rivers right here in Charlotte, they really start to get excited.  Being a family friendly organization immediately opens up the possibilities and gets those that care involved.