06 • 19 • 2018

Activist spotlight: Sarah Betuel with Surfrider’s East Hampton Middle School Club

Meet Sarah Betuel, 8th grade graduate and president of the Surfrider Foundation East Hampton Middle School Club. She was also recently featured in the East Hampton Star for her plastic pollution efforts!

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

I became involved in the Surfrider Club in sixth grade at East Hampton Middle School, when I was elected President of the club. I wanted to do something to improve the environment and the club seemed like a great way to get involved. 

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

Plastic pollution is a big problem in our local ocean and bays. Creatures that live in the ocean can eat plastic and die a horrible death, and also the beaches become polluted from debris that is left behind. Balloons are also very bad for marine life because balloons can be confused with food. We also see a lot of erosion, which is a big problem on the East End. 

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

I have done the Shoreline Sweep several times to help clean up the beaches. We gather litter in bags as we walk along the shore. I have also planted beach grass to help stop erosion, and we did a great project seeding clams in Acabonic Harbor. We went out on paddleboards with buckets of clams and spread them in the harbor. I have done water testing in our town pond to check for bacteria. I worked with our club to raise money for ten recycling containers around our school, collecting and recycling plastic water bottles to help pay for them. I have also worked on projects around our school to make kids aware of environmental issues. Right now we have “Eli the Turtle” at our school, to demonstrate how plastic straws damage the environment and to promote the Surfrider Strawless Summer.

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

Last year, I wrote a letter to the school board, parent advisory committee, and cafeteria supply company, asking that they get rid of foam plates in our school cafeteria. I was very happy that they agreed to do that. I am also very excited to be working on the Strawless Summer project, asking people and businesses to stop using plastic straws so our beaches can be cleaner.

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

I tell people that Surfrider is an organization that cares about our oceans, waves and beaches. We are passionate about protecting them and the marine creatures that live there. Being a member of Surfrider is a great way to get involved and do something about the problem of ocean pollution.

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

Being a Surfrider coastal defender is important to me because I want to help protect our bays and ocean. I hope that my actions will inspire others to clean up their litter before they leave the beach, to recycle, and to say no to plastic straws.

Q: Anything else?  

I have enjoyed being president of the Surfrider Club at East Hampton Middle School for the past three years, and I plan to keep working on environmental projects in high school.

Want to get involved? Find a student club or chapter near you at or support the Surfrider network at