Activist Spotlight
April 30 2015

Protecting Five Star Waters


First Name: John

Last Name: Doerfler

Chapter: Delaware Chapter

Volunteer (and/or Member) Since: 2012

Hi my name is John Doerfler, and I am Surfrider because…I’m not just one, I’m one of many.

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

I got involved in Surfrider a couple of months before Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012.  My local break was being jeopardized with an upcoming beach nourishment proposal and I didn’t want to see Delaware lose another break.  My involvement got ramped up after the superstorm when the federal money got allocated and the local agencies tried to railroad through the vetting process for the beach fill project. 

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

We currently have two major campaigns going on.  The town of Rehoboth Beach is trying to install a sewage outfall into our five-star waters.  It has been a 10+ year process of opposition but we have managed to engage the community in the debate much more this past year, and have created an organized response for better alternatives.  

The second issue we’ll be tackling more in 2015 is the unsafe conditions the constant beach fills have created in Delaware.  There is a growing swell of support on the issue and we’re looking to be leaders in our community to not only raise awareness of local policies, but looking to lead the discussion on better practices and different trains of thought.

What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

I think my major accomplishment with the chapter was giving it a new sense of structure.  I’ve had a hand in helping with the various campaigns but the committees are so entrenched with the issues and passionate about them that they really have taken on an enthusiasm all their own.  I think being able to pull everyone together and organize the chapter behind the scenes to make sure we’re heard and out there is my proudest accomplishment.   We had the train, we just needed some tracks to guide us.  A big ‘thank you’ to Surfrider’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager, John Weber for helping me understand the lay of the land when working with volunteers and everyone’s limited time.

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

Easily the people I’ve met.  I think as surfers, skaters, ramblers, and those generally on the fringe edges of art, music, and culture, we forget, or don’t even notice, that there are others that hold our values.  So many times we’ve been dismissed as bleeding hearts or too idealistic for our own good, that we start to question our own beliefs and if they’re realistic.  It’s so rewarding to work with and be surrounded by a community of hopeless romantics who believe they can be the agent of change and relentlessly charge towards their goals of a better community and world. 

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

That we’re not just surfers.  We’re fighting for the same things the sunbathers love, the kid with a beach bucket loves, the fishermen love, and weekend warrior loves.