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12 • 09 • 2022

Activist’s Spotlight: Ava Goldman and Morgan Lynch With the Virginia Beach Environmental Studies Program

By Surfrider Foundation

Q: What is your current role with the Surfrider Foundation?

Ava & Morgan: Co-President and Co-Founder of the Virginia Beach City Public Schools Environmental Studies Program Surfrider Club

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

Ava & Morgan: We both became involved during Fall of 2021 after our teacher, Dianna McDowell, asked us to present something interesting we had found that had to do with one of our program's missions of “sustainability.” After presenting we decided we loved Surfrider and wanted to start a Surfrider Club in our program. 

Q: What are some environmental issues that are affecting your local community?

Ava & Morgan: Living in Virginia Beach, VA, we’re faced with problems such as ocean pollution and acidification, flooding and sea level rise, as well as oyster restoration, and plastic/microplastic waste.  

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

Ava & Morgan: Our chapter was chosen as one of four chapters around the country to pilot the Surfrider x UCLA club lessons. After we were sent the lesson plans, we revised and reworked them how we saw fit so that they accurately instructed students about the environment but in a fun and interactive way. 

Q: Are there any specific project(s) that you have worked on which benefited your community? If so, can you tell us about that?

Ava & Morgan: We’ve worked with elementary students and high school students to show them our space and how we utilize our indoor/outdoor living building. We have also helped the Chesapeake Bay Foundation with oyster restoration and have done frequent cleanups around the Pleasure House Point natural area such as a 'clean the bay' day. 

Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience?

Ava: My personal highlight was working with the elementary students and teaching them about sustainability and how important it is to keep our beaches clean.

Morgan: My personal highlight is leading the First Colonial Service Day High Schoolers and showing them how to reuse oyster shells from our local restaurants and use them for oyster restoration. 

Q: Do you have any personal experiences or campaigns/issues that you're passionate about where the social justice and environmental movements have intersected? If so, can you tell us about them?

Both: We’re both really passionate about plastics in the ocean and are currently working on projects to raise awareness and ignite change. 

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

Ava: I always tell others about the mission of Surfrider - to provide equal beach access and keep our beaches and ocean trash-free.

Morgan: While there are Surfrider affiliates around the world, the student clubs unite to focus on common issues to combat pollution, coastal and climate change, and clean water. 

Q: Why is being a part of the Surfrider ocean conservation community important to you?

Ava: I grew up on the beach and have always had a love for the ocean. I think it’s really important (and cool!) to be a part of an organization like Surfrider to keep the beaches clean and accessible for generations to come. 

Morgan: Coming from a beach community, growing up on the water, and being raised participating in a plethora of water sports, ocean conservation has always been important to me and being a part of Surfrider’s ocean conservation community makes me feel like I am making a difference. 

Q: Anything else? 

Both of us grew up in Virginia Beach. Morgan Lynch attends Frank W. Cox High School and Ava Goldman attends First Colonial High School.

The Environmental Studies Program is a half-day program offered to high school Juniors and Seniors in Virginia Beach. Students engage in hands-on learning in the fields of environmental science and sustainability.

Both of us are involved in a senior year internship with HBA Architecture and are working on designing potential outdoor learning spaces for local high school remodels. 

Morgan works with Kid to Kid, a local nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness and money for St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children. Morgan has also been a competitive dancer for 15 years.

Ava is captain of the varsity sideline cheerleading team at First Colonial, has been an All-Star cheerleader for 10 years, and has been a volunteer cheerleading coach for 3 years.