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Activist Spotlight: Acxel Herrera-Ibarra With The San Diego Chapter

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

I am a chapter member and volunteer with Surfrider´s Blue Water Task Force, also known as BWTF. I help test the waters in Imperial Beach.

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

I got involved with Surfrider because of their strong presence protecting our oceans, environment, and San Diego's beaches. San Diego is my home away from home, as I am originally from México, so I care for it deeply. I became actively involved in July of 2023. However, I had already participated in several beach cleanups before that, and eventually joined the BWTF as I have a strong interest in protecting clean water.


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

Currently, the situation at the U.S./Mexico border regarding the sewage crisis at the Tijuana River Estuary. This is a big issue impacting San Diego, but mainly the southern regions and beaches.

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

I have worked on Blue Water Task Force-related projects regarding water quality and testing, tabling events that help inform the public and showcase the work that Surfrider does, been the Imperial Beach site captain for beach cleanups, and also had the opportunity of being part of the Surfrider San Diego Chapter Delegation for Virtual Hill Day 2024.


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

Yes! Having the opportunity to test Imperial Beach waters has enabled Surfrider to retrieve data on the current and ongoing bacteria levels present in the water. This allows Surfrider to inform south San Diego communities via weekly water quality announcements and therefore mitigating the negative impacts it can have on public health.

I also help clean up trash around my neighborhood. I do this on my own and usually try to actively do this when walking my dog. Beach cleanups as well!

 I recommend everyone sign up for Surfrider´s Weekly Beach Report, or check their website and social media platforms! It’s a great way for families and beachgoers to stay up to date on the health of our beaches.

Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience (i.e., campaign, program, victory)?

 Being part of the 2024 Virtual Hill Day(s) was a great experience with many takeaways. My captains and delegation were awesome to work and collaborate with.

Acxel Herrera With The San Diego Chapter at a beach cleanup

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

I am passionate about access to clean water/water quality and its intersection with public health – especially, how it impacts at-risk communities. We need healthy bodies of water so that we can continue to thrive as humans, but also so that our ecosystem doesn’t fall apart and suffer the consequences of our inability to act. The health of wildlife, as well as our own, is important to preserve for this generation and the next.

Q: What can Surfrider do (or continue doing) to foster an inclusive and welcoming experience? Do you have any examples from your experience where this is successfully happening?  

Continuing to remain inclusive and emphasizing the mission and core beliefs of staying true to our coasts is a good way to go. Also, continuing to include the public and equipping them with information and resources is essential. Volunteer and community engagement are at the core of Surfrider! Everyone at Surfrider has been welcoming, open to ideas and opinions, and helpful in fostering my growth through different learning opportunities and activities. I got involved with BWTF because of the openness and willingness of my team lead(s), as well as their ability to listen to my concerns and opinions.

Acxel Herrera With The San Diego Chapter at the Tijuana River

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

It's an organization where you will not only learn about the environment, and that which threatens it, but also, Surfrider learns from you and your experience interacting with nature.

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

Living in a coastal city like San Diego makes it very important to me. The ocean is vast and a vital part of our ecosystem. I like the phrase, "Local action has global impacts," because I strongly believe that collaborative and ongoing local efforts lead to global consciousness and thus create action.

Q: Anything else? 

A special thanks to the San Diego Chapter for welcoming me, my ideas, and giving me a seat at the table. I love you all!