Q: What is your current role with the Surfrider Foundation?
Chair of the Delaware Chapter.
Q: Why and when did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?
I first joined when I was in college, a long time ago, before there were local chapters. I joined because I felt a connection to the mission as a surfer and someone who believes we need to protect the areas where we recreate.
Q: What are some environmental issues that are affecting your local community?
Trying to pass a single use plastics/EPS ban to help support our current plastic bag, and balloon release bans. We are also the lowest state in elevation so it is critical we protect our coast against sea rise.
Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?
This past year, we launched Hold On To Your Butt (HOYB) and Blue Water TAsk Force (BWTF) programs. We have also collaborated with state government and local environmental groups to work on an EPS/single use plastics ban.
Q: Are there any specific project(s) that you have worked on which benefited your community? If so, can you tell us about that?
Our HOTYB program was one of only eight projects to receive a Temper of the Times grant. It was a collaborative effort with our State Parks and Plastic Free DE to launch the program. It has been a huge success thanks to the great work of our team led by our Cleanups Coordinator Jana Johnston. She really led the charge. As the chapter Chair, I just made sure she had the support she needed at critical times in the project. The program really hits home with our local residents. Local businesses and communities have reached out to us to help spread the word about cigarette waste.
Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience (i.e., campaign, program, victory)?
Working with our members, volunteers, and local groups that we collaborate with on various projects. We are a small chapter so building relationships with other organizations helps us secure the resources to get many projects off the ground.
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?
I want our chapter to start a JEDI program if we can get the membership support to launch such a program. There are many areas that we could quickly have an impact. The beach towns are near a large Latino population, and there is a vibrant LBGTQ+ community that we could reach out to, if we have the resources. We would also like to reach out to the local Native American community – Nanticoke tribe.
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?
Continue to promote an open and welcoming community of people that love the beaches and oceans. As long as you are willing to help protect our coast you are invited to participate.
Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?
There are really two things: 1) You don’t have to be a surfer to join, just a person that loves the ocean, and 2) we do more than beach cleanups. You would be impressed with the projects we work on in such a small state.
Q: Why is being a part of the Surfrider ocean conservation community important to you?
I truly believe that as surfers we have an obligation to protect the ocean that is so important to us. We spend a significant amount of time at the beach and in the water, a place that provides us with so much joy. Locally, Delaware is roughly 100 miles long and what happens in the Delaware River and Bay has impacts to our inland bays and coastal towns. We are truly connected. And unlike many other states, if you live in Delaware, you will be impacted by issues at our coast.
Q: Anything else?
I was just a card carrying member for years. Because I lived part-time at the beach, it was difficult to participate in meetings or know about events. But once Covid came and meetings went virtual, I started to attend chapter meetings. I saw a lot of potential for the chapter in our beach communities and even statewide. So I became more involved by helping the chapter work with the Delaware River Keeper Network to stop an LNG facility just north of the DE state line in NJ. I was hooked, and soon became the Vice Chair and then Chair of the chapter. So to anyone that has wanted to get involved with their chapter but did not know how, just attend a meeting or two. The opportunities will then find you.