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02 • 28 • 2021

Activist Spotlight: Rekia Spencer with the Los Angeles Chapter

By Surfrider Foundation

Q: What is your current job or role with Surfrider?

I’m the “Hold Onto Your Butts” program manager for the Los Angeles Chapter.

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

I became involved with the Surfrider Foundation in the fall of 2020. I was exceedingly impressed with the foundation’s work, as well as how perfectly it matched with our travel company youRhere’s (YRH) values. Every location we visit has its own story to tell—this includes its land! It’s our job, as visitors and local inhabitants, to preserve the natural elements and do what we can to improve them. I felt we aligned with the Surfrider Foundation with this shared, intrinsic pillar and was thrilled to get involved.

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

Due to the high population (and high volume of tourists!) in Los Angeles, our beaches are very vulnerable to everyday pollution. Large crowds definitely increase the odds for debris to be left behind, including plastic, trash, etc. Additionally, as highlighted in the Surfrider Foundation’s “Hold on to Your Butts” campaign, there’s a plethora of cigarette butts discarded around the beach. More recently, as a result of the pandemic, we’re also seeing a lot of face masks littering our beaches.

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

I have been thrilled to work with the Surfrider Foundation by leading the “Hold on to Your Butts” program—helping to install and maintain ash cans near our beaches, as well as disseminate important information about “butt” pollution to Los Angeles.

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

I’ve really enjoyed learning about cigarette pollution—installing ash cans was a new experience for me, and it’s really helped illustrate how prolific the problem is here. Giving back to my home-base has been an incredible experience - organizing beach cleanups and meeting like-minded members of the community have certainly been highlights. In addition to our in-person work, we’ve been dedicated to promoting our favorite Ocean Friendly Restaurants on youRhere’s website and blog. Delicious and responsible!

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

My main focus, at current, is to educate others on the “Hold on to Your Butts” campaign. The team and I are incredibly proud of our work with the Surfrider Foundation. We often speak to our audience about our efforts to give back to our community through the foundation. We enjoy focusing our efforts on both local and global issues and we are teaching audience members from around the world how to be active in their respective communities.

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

Social responsibility is incredibly important to me. Expanding our community members’ minds and worldviews is vital to protecting this planet. Though we have a deep love and respect of all nature, being Angelenos, we have a particularly soft spot for beaches and oceans. We feel especially called to be coastal defenders!

Q: Anything else? 

I am thrilled to continue and grow my relationship with the Surfrider Foundation. As I get involved in other programs, I plan to incorporate what I learn into my future endeavors. Keeping our community informed, involved, and inspired to make a positive impact in their local community (as well as our global community, after travel opens back up again) would be my ideal achievement through my connection with Surfrider!