Activist Spotlight
August 31 2015

We all influence our waterways

Chelsea Collins, Western Washington University 

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

I got involved in Surfrider to become an active participate in my community. Surfrider represents the ideal balance between what needs to be done for the environment and what needs to be maintained in order to keep it functioning as a recreational space. Surfrider allows me to work on the environment in a scientific manner while promoting conservation toward the continuation of recreation.

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

The main focus of our NWS chapter is working on water quality. Through a couple programs, the Blue Water Task Force and a summer water quality internship, we are looking at enterococcus on a monthly basis year round and a weekly basis during the summer time. We are using this data to establish a consistent record of collection to examine seasonal impacts on water quality with the goal of finding solutions to mediate pollution and improve public knowledge on local water quality. Additionally, NWS chapter is working on recreational use surveys to examine the economic value associated with coastal recreation. We want to use this information towards the process of Marine Spatial Planning to find points of high public use to represent the voice of recreators in Washington State.

Q: What project is your Club currently working on? What is your goal?

We are currently hosting a fundraiser raising awareness against shark finning. We are hoping to use this event to connect students to the ocean and to look at sharks as an important part of our ecosystem and not just the subject of popular media. Our goal for the club is to engage people in their environment. Bellingham’s connection to Salish Sea and locale near the Washington and Canadian coasts provide an environment surrounded by water, fresh and marine. I hope to emphasize that all of our actions are influential, no matter if you are at home or at the beach. I hope to highlight the sometimes unrealized overlaps between our environment and our own choices and how these can influence waterways.

Q: How do you think Surfrider’s Youth Program will help you succeed in the future?

Surfrider has been at the base of most of my initial training, scientifically and policy focused. I have been involved in everything from laboratory work to event planning, I have worked as an intern and held leadership positions. Surfrider’s Youth Program is ideal because it is so well rounded. This organization is community focused and adept to deal with what issues are influencing our local environment.

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

That we are a foundation set on protecting all waterways in a manner beneficial to people as well as the environment.