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Activist Spotlight: John Kollmorgen With the New Hampshire Chapter

Q: What is your current role with the Surfrider Foundation?
I am the Ocean Friendly Restaurants coordinator with the New Hampshire Surfrider chapter.

Q: Why and when did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?
I first learned about Surfrider Foundation from a 1996 music release called Music for Our Mother Ocean, which was the first of a three volume collection released by Surfdog Records. It was after purchasing this CD that I started to donate to Surfrider. I have been actively involved with the NH chapter for the last couple of years. So, thank you Eddie Vedder!


Q: What are some environmental issues that are affecting your local community?
Being in a coastal community, the most obvious environmental issues affecting the area are rising ocean levels and temperatures, water quality, and plastic pollution.

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?
Beach cleanups, Ocean Friendly Restaurants, and Blue Water Task Force water quality testing.


Q: Are there any specific projects that you have worked on which benefited your community? If so, can you tell us about that?
As the new OFR coordinator, I have been trying to reach out to local restaurants and celebrate what they are already doing to be ocean friendly. My goal is to target and help promote restaurants that are going out of their way to use sustainable strategies. The eventual goal is to influence other area restaurants to make the necessary operational changes to become an OFR. We have added four OFR restaurants since January 2023, and have many more on our radar.

John Kollmorgen at an Ocean Friendly Restaurants event

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

Meeting like-minded individuals who are passionate about environmental issues and have a wealth of knowledge to learn from. New Hampshire has a very small coastline and we are a small chapter, but it has been tremendous to see the impactful work that the team has been doing.

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?
As an educator, it has been exciting to observe how much more environmentally aware young students are today than my generation was in middle or high school. The future is bright; however, it has been equally eye opening to meet many students who live so close to the ocean but do not have access to enjoy it. Surfrider’s philosophy of beach/ocean access for all especially rings true when you meet these young people. 

A bucket full of trash at a Surfrider New Hampshire beach cleanup

Q: What can Surfrider do to foster an inclusive and welcoming experience? Do you have any examples from your experience where this is successfully happening?
I have felt nothing more than welcomed by our local chapter, and getting to meet the diverse group at our regional meeting in December 2022 was further evidence that Surfrider is extremely welcoming. When people approach a Surfrider table at a beach cleanup or other event, they are always treated warmly and I feel that they walk away feeling welcomed and impressed with what the foundation does. 

Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?
Get involved! It is so easy and can help your community so much.

Q: Why is being a part of the Surfrider ocean conservation community important to you?
I feel more deserving of living where I do by trying to give back and play a small role in protecting the vital resource that our ocean is.

John Kollmorgen and his family with the ocean behind them