12 • 06 • 2021

Activist Spotlight: Marina Feeser With the Ocean City Maryland Chapter

By Surfrider Foundation

Q: What is your current job or role? How have your daily experiences changed since the beginning of 2020? 

I am currently the chapter chair of the Ocean City Chapter. I started as chair during 2020, which was an interesting time to be taking a new position within the chapter. A lot of what we worked on in the last year was trying to engage our volunteers virtually through events like webinars, virtual chapter meetings and solo beach cleanups. I’m so happy to be slowly getting back to group events and seeing everyone in-person!

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

I got involved with Surfrider when I first moved out to the shore, about five years ago. I have always loved the water, but once I moved to the Eastern shore and got to see how many beautiful places there are out here, I knew I wanted to get involved with a local organization to help protect those places. Soon after I moved, the Ocean City Surfrider Chapter made a post on Facebook that they needed some help at a local event, Sunfest. I went to help them out and after that the chapter pulled me right in with a warm welcome!

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

Plastic pollution and litter in general, especially since the pandemic has increased the amount of single-use plastic items being used. Cigarette butts continue to be one of our most collected items at every beach cleanup. On the shore, we deal with a lot of water quality issues largely due to emissions from the always growing poultry industry. We are also dealing with sea level rise at our doorstep, with nuisance flooding becoming more and more of a normal occurrence all the time.

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

I have been involved with our chapter’s beach cleanup program, helping host monthly cleanup events at different locations in and around Ocean City and Assateague Island. I’ve also been involved with a lot of youth engagement - teaming up with our local Surfrider student clubs, speaking about plastic pollution at a Youth Environmental Action Summit in Salisbury, and even creating a recycled bottle cap mural with kids at a local event called Bay Day. I love interacting with the kids - they get so excited about helping the ocean and making a difference in their community.

I’m a graphic designer when I’m not busy protecting the ocean, so I’ve contributed a lot of artwork to the chapter over the years, including our Endless Summer-inspired “Strawless Summer” program artwork that we put on a poster for participating restaurants to display and t-shirts which we sold at chapter events.

Currently, we’re working on a long-term campaign to establish a National Recreation Area surrounding the Chesapeake Bay. This effort would put the Bay under national park level protection and also open up more opportunities for Bay recreation for all. I’m part of the coalition United for a Chesapeake National Recreation Area and hope to soon get the whole chapter involved to help advance this campaign to protect Maryland’s most precious natural resource.

Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience?

My favorite Surfrider experience by far was going to Washington, D.C. for Coastal Recreation Hill Day. It was incredible to be in D.C. with other activists from all over the country, asking our congressional leaders for stronger ocean protections. Our Maryland team of volunteers had eight meetings with our local leaders that day, pushing for action on climate change, plastic pollution, clean water, and protecting our public lands and waters. It was a powerful experience for me for lots of reasons, but mostly I was so proud of the team with me that day. I was the group lead, but the real stars of the day were the students we had with us from some of the local Surfrider student clubs. They were engaged, had personal stories to share and they knew the facts about why we need to demand action. I remember walking down the hallways of the congressional buildings with them after several of our meetings were over, tearing up at how proud I was of them. It was an inspiring experience that made me even more passionate about speaking up for our coasts.

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

Surfrider is an organization full of passionate people who are ready to actively protect the coastlines most important to them. We aren’t willing to stand by and watch our beaches and waves be harmed by things like sea level rise, climate change, and plastic pollution. We’re all taking a stand together to protect the places we love, from coast to coast.

Q: Why are you a Surfrider coastal defender (or why is being a Surfrider coastal defender important to you)? 

As a very active stand up paddleboarder, it’s important to me to protect the beautiful waters where I go paddling. My love for the water inspires me to want to do all that I can do to protect it. I want our rivers, bays, and oceans to be clean and healthy for generations to come to enjoy, just as I do.

Q: Anything else? 

In addition to all of the amazing things we’ve accomplished as a chapter and as an organization as a whole, I have also, over the years, met some of the best people who have taught me so much. The most kind and caring souls, as passionate about coastal protection as I am. People who I now call friends, and we work to protect the ocean together. I love every second of it.