Activist Spotlight, Plastic Pollution, Youth
January 30 2019

Activist Spotlight: Olivia Schroeder - Surfer, Teacher, Surfrider Student Club Leader!

by Ryan Cruse

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

Honestly, I was intrigued by Surfrider ever since I moved to the coast 13 years ago. I’d heard of friends attending chapter meetings in town, and being an avid surfer with a passion for our oceans and beaches, always had a desire to go. However, I was busy with babies and teaching (and surfing) and never really got involved until about 5 years ago. At first, I worked in collaboration with the Surfrider Foundation to get my students involved in beach cleanups. More recently, our local chapter headed up the beach cleanup portion of a Mock surf competition I started with my good friend, Meira. Finally, this last year, Surfrider co-hosted our competition, The Women’s Expression Session. To prepare for the event, I had a lunch or two with the Oregon Field Manager, Bri. Of course, our talks ended up including so much more than preparations for our upcoming contest. I ended up learning about Surfrider Student Clubs, and researching and recognizing the many thoughtful, well-developed, and helpful resources they had to offer educators. Knowing that becoming a Surfrider Club could bring great meaning to student’s learning, as well as my teaching, I went ahead and did it! Now my class of 5th graders is an official Surfrider Student Slub! They named themselves ‘The Oceanic Society of Turtle Lovers.’ Nailed it!

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

Local issues that affect me and my family directly are marine debris on our beaches and in Yaquina Bay, poor water quality that keeps us out of the surf (this last summer more than ever), and the accessibility and treatment of single use plastics such as plastic bags, plastic straws, and plastic silverware.

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

Rise Above Plastics has been what our Surfrider Club has been most involved in so far. My students have been busy making and selling beeswax wraps most of the school year. These are meant to be alternatives to ziploc baggies, plastic tupperware (and lids!) and saran wrap. More recently, we have moved onto the topic of plastic bags. Five members of the Oceanic Society of Turtle Lovers spoke at a recent City Hall meeting, presenting their research and arguments in favor of banning the bag in our town. After hearing about their experience, the rest of my class has become very enthusiastic about being a part of the next meeting in a couple weeks!

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

Getting kids involved. Listening to their ideas, and watching them speak their truth to their community about what is important to them.

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

I really connect with our motto, ‘Protect what you love’. I always come back to that when talking, sharing about, or promoting involvement with Surfrider.

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

I am a Surfrider coastal defender for myself, my kids, my students, and ultimately, the future of humanity. Also, for animals and our beautiful, bountiful Mother Earth. I grew up camping all over the gorgeously green state of Oregon. Throughout our adventures, my parents instilled in me a love for nature, the need for stewardship, and a fierce intrinsic motivation to protect what you love.

Q: Anything Else?  I am grateful and proud to be part of this network of caring, thoughtful, ocean-minded people. Individually we are one drop. Together we are an Ocean.