Meet Barbara Wiedner, a dedicated coastal defender who helped launch the Surfrider Kauai chapter in 2006, which was "one of the most rewarding things to ever be involved with."
Q: When did you get involved with Surfrider and why?
My sister gave me a Surfrider membership as a holiday gift in 2005. I saw my friend's Surfrider sticker on her car at our favorite beach and surf spot. She said she was thinking of forming a chapter here on Kauai. I said “count me in!” So I was part of the group that started the Kauai chapter in 2006. My environmentalist mentor, Dr. Gordon Labedz, told me that being part of starting a chapter would be one of most rewarding things that I was ever involved in. I did not think much of that at the time... but he was right.
Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?
I have been involved in many Surfrider projects over the past ten years: beach cleanups, water quality testing (including my favorite surf break Middles for a few years), helped start our Net Patrol program in 2007, protested for beach access, protested against the Superferry, worked on the plastic bag ban campaign and the Ban Styrofoam campaign, and also worked with many school and youth groups. As a former teacher, I always love getting back in the classroom to talk to kids about the health of the ocean and the problem of marine debris.
Q: Is there an issue facing our ocean, waves and beaches that you care deeply about?
Marine debris is one issue I care deeply about. For the past ten years, we have been pulling derelict fishing nets off Kauai's coastlines. These nets can cause injury to whales in Hawaiian waters and can potentially harm monk seals, turtles and many other types of sea life as the nets do not break down in the ocean. Also, plastic pollution poses harm to fish and birds as plastic can look like food or be ingested. When working in the classroom, even second graders can quickly learn why a carton is a better choice than a plastic bottle - hopefully they will remember this when shopping with their parents.
Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience (i.e., campaign, program, victory)?
Seeing how a few people working together can make a difference has been a highlight! The relationships formed while volunteering is priceless. Another highlight was watching the Superferry turn around and not enter Kauai's harbor, while I sat on my surfboard holding a sign that said ‘Have you killed any whales lately?’ A few additional memorable moments include shipping off 20 foot containers of nets for recycling, the plastic bag ban victory, and being part of a group that removed over 47,000 of marine debris off of Kauai's coastlines in 2015-2016 as a result of working together with many community groups and dedicated volunteers!
Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?
What a great group for any ocean lover to be involved with! It's the coolest environmental group on the planet!
Thank you for helping to protect our ocean, waves and beaches for the future!