Activist Spotlight
April 01 2015

Keeping It Clean Upstream

Jocelyn Gary
Journey began in 2001
Chapter: Surfrider Foundation Portland (OR) Chapter

Hi my name is Jocelyn, and I am Surfrider because… I’m a Pisces and therefore a fish so I crave water in any form whether it’s liquid, solid, or somewhere in-between.  I’m most happy playing outside in the surf and on the slopes. Surfrider helps protect the things I love the most, my playground and my church; the great outdoors. So, why would I not volunteer?

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

During February of 2002, I was up at Mt. Hood Meadows snowboarding during one of their “green” weekends.  Katie Breene was tabling in a Surfrider tent, yelling to the outdoor enthusiasts passing by, asking them to come learn about how to keep things clean up stream. After a half hour conversation and a few ski lines down Heather Canyon; she had me hooked on the Snowrider Project. I attended my first Surfrider meeting quickly there after and became the secretary. The rest was history!

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

The Portland Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation is currently focusing on two campaigns, Blue Water Task Force (BWTF), and Hold Onto Your Butts.  Blue Water Task Force is our first big project where we advocate through our Green Streets and Ocean Friendly Garden programs. We clean up the bioswales in North and Southeast Portland and have installed rain gardens in Portland. With the Hold Onto Your Butts campaign, we’re currently taking data on how many cigarette butts are being thrown on the ground around the downtown Portland area through cleanups and site specific data. We’re hoping to get some ashtray disposal containers installed throughout Portland with Surfrider verbiage on them to help continue our educational outreach to people in the downtown area!

What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

Throughout the past 15 years, pretty much all of them! The latest project that I feel very fortunate to be part of, because it was near and dear to me, was a transformation of Peninsula K-8 school’s courtyard into a fully functioning rain garden.  Through the grant writing process with Oregon Policy Manager, Charlie Plybon and Environmental Director, Pete Stauffer, we were able to receive a $10,000 grant for the project.  I’m a teacher at Peninsula and this project has exposed inner city youth to environmental sciences, ways to help with pollution control and habitat restoration.  With a projected completion date of May 12, 2015 we’re excited to include not only the school community, but also the neighborhood community in a dedication ceremony on Tuesday May 19th, 2015. There was no way that the project couldn’t have happened without our general contractor Todd Blossom and Landscape Architect Allan Schmidt. There’s nothing more gratifying than molding the minds of youth and turn them into little environmentalists.

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

My highlight would have to be BWTF and Snowrider Project. The cleanup and restoration aspect of Surfrider drew me towards volunteering. Over the past six years, I’ve ran the partnership with Portland Parks and Recreation that has lead to fully restoring Oaks Crossing Park back to its natural habitat.  I love that the Portland chapter – that I’m proud to be part of – removes up to three tons of trash annually from our local mountain at our Salmon Headwaters Cleanup with the Snowrider Project.

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

Surfrider is dedicated to protecting the watersheds locally and internationally in so many different capacities. Powered through grassroots organizing of very talented volunteers, the nonprofit has brought about huge positive change for the environment, while allowing people to develop strong friendships with amazing people.  We also get to do the things we love at the same time (like surf and ski)!