Shannon Shneyder is a tireless defender of the Florida coastline. Most recently, she has been leading the chapter's efforts to reduce single-use plastic pollution through Surfrider's Ocean Friendly Restaurants program. Through working proactively with the business community in Sebastian Inlet, Shannon has been able to make huge strides in helping local restaurants make the transition to more Ocean Friendly practices.
Q: Why and when did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?
My dad is a surfer and I grew up on the beach. When I was young we used to go to Santa Cruz for early morning surf sessions and some of my fondest memories are playing on the rocks, watching and hearing the sea lions, and of course, the waves. I quickly fell in love with the ocean and the animals in it. My parents were also classic hippies and I was raised knowing everyone has a responsibility to protect the environment. I have been a member of Surfrider for 15+ years and 8 years ago, I decided I needed to do more than just pay my annual membership fee. I went to my first Sebastian Inlet Surfrider meeting and at that time the chapter was about to disband due to lack of involvement. Luckily, at that meeting we rallied together and I left having been elected to the executive committee and have been heavily involved ever since. I am proud to say our chapter has come a long way due to that meeting and all of our amazing members, and we are now active and making waves in the community!
Q: What are some local issues that are affecting your ocean, waves and beaches?
Local issues include irresponsible development that has led to dune erosion and sand dumping on our beach, which is burying the reef and affecting natural habitats and the quality of the coastline. Some of the cruise ship industry has caused some major pollution issues on our beach. And of course, the universal issues- plastic pollution and the federal administration’s actions to roll back policies aimed at protecting the environment and curbing climate change.
Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?
I have really enjoyed organizing several of our ISD celebrations and experiencing the pure joy of watching kids riding their first waves! I was also on the planning committee of our Regular Joe Surf Festival we put on for 5 years which is always a blast! This past year we raised awareness for the First Peak Project aimed at restoring the historic Sebastian Inlet wave our own Kelly Slater grew up surfing among many other champion surfers. Currently, I am leading the Surfrider's Ocean Friendly Restaurants program in the community.
Q: What as been the highlight of your Surfrider experience (i.e., campaign, program, victory)?
Leading our chapter's Ocean Friendly Restaurants program has been exciting as it rapidly spreads needed knowledge to the entire community about improving everyday habits as well as decreasing the amount of plastic ending up in the ocean! I found out about the program at Surfrider’s East Coast Leadership Conference last year and I immediately decided I wanted to lead this effort. The highlight was getting our first restaurant signed up, Nomad Cafe, after a thorough process and relationship-building. I have been extremely encouraged by the favorable responses we have had throughout our community and how quickly restaurants are making changes.
Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?
You don’t have to be a surfer to be a Surfrider member! Our members are anyone who loves and cares about the ocean and want to help protect it.
Q: Why are you a Surfrider coastal defender (or why is being a Surfrider coastal defender important to you)? As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” I feel an obligation to be part of this group of committed citizens to do whatever we can to be a part of the effort to raise awareness and find solutions to the many issues facing our beloved oceans. Also, I have two children who love the ocean and want to protect it as well.
Q: Anything else?
”For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that in order to survive, he must protect it.” -Jacques Yves Cousteau.