On Feb 16th, six passionate students and leaders of the University of North Carolina Wilmington Surfrider club descended upon Washington D.C. to lobby against offshore oil drilling, the rollback of ocean protections and for clean water and reducing plastic pollution as part of Surfrider’s Ocean Recreation Hill Day. This was the first time any of them had lobbied in D.C. and they were fired up to engage in the civic process and make their voices heard on the issues that matter most to them and their local communities.
The day started with a group training led by Surfrider staff where they learned about the most effective ways to communicate with elected officials and time to practice their talking points and strategize on the best tactics for each legislator. The students then broke up into the North Carolina and Virginia delegations and took to the hill with other Surfrider staff and volunteers.
Given the current political climate, a few of the meetings were challenging to say the least but the UNCW crew did an incredible job of staying on point, educating their elected officials and not getting drawn into partisan politics.
Quotes from their experience up on the hill:
"Lobbying in Washington, D.C. alongside the Surfrider Organization was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. Having a dream to affect policy and a passion to save our oceans, it made for the perfect trip. I am so thankful to be a part of such a phenomenal, dedicated, and inspiring organization. Together, we can change the world." - Anna Kathryn Herring - Freshman and new UNCW Club member!
"Growing up right outside of D.C. in Northern Virginia, and I've always dreamed of going to talk to our representatives on environmental issues that I've grown to become active and passionate in. Our experience was exactly what I could've asked for. I was stoked on the fact that we got to talk to our district representatives and be constituents; most of all stoked that we got to express our passion and concerns on offshore drilling, marine debris and water quality. I loved our experience and I'm going to look forward to lobbying more in the future. Seeing change at the federal level is something that I think all citizens should be aware they have control in, and calling a representative to express your concerns will make a bigger difference than you think." - Alexandra Kay Marstall – UNCW Surfrider Club Chair
This incredible group of students even made their local news complete with a video piece as they were prepping for this trip:
Surfrider was honored that this crew made the trip to fight for our coasts and are very proud of the ocean protection work the UNCW Surfrider Club is doing in their own community. Keep it up crew!