Q: What is your current role with the Surfrider Foundation?
I’m the Miami-Dade County Liaison for The Surfrider Foundation Miami Chapter. I keep my ear to the ground and my finger on the pulse of all things clean water/healthy beaches here in South Florida.
Q: Why and when did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?
About four years ago, my local beach started getting no-swim advisories far too frequently. I’m a kitesurfer, so the beach is my second home – this was not ok. I didn’t want to complain and do nothing… so I became involved with Surfrider as a way to not only to find out what was going on, but to become part of the solution.
Q: What are some environmental issues that are affecting your local community?
This answer is not short and some of the most urgent environmental issues affecting our community are:
- Aging sewage systems
- Nutrients entering Biscayne Bay
- Plastics and non-organic pollutants entering Biscayne Bay
- Construction debris and pollution entering Biscayne Bay
Q: Are there any specific project(s) that you have worked on which benefited your community? If so, can you tell us about that?
Back in September '22, I created a program called SEAS: Swim. Explore. Act. Surf. It’s a 3-part program that’s a path to advocacy and opportunity for underrepresented kids and families. We know that the ability to swim is far more than simply “getting to a wall.” Learning how to swim and feeling safe and comfortable in the water opens up incredible opportunities for education, leisure, sport, study and, of course, ocean advocacy.
- Part 1 - 16 weeks of swimming lessons
- Part 2 - Beach Day! Surfing lessons, lunch and a fun, inspirational, educational beach cleanup
- Part 3 - A Day on the Bay! Two hours in a “floating classroom,” learning about Biscayne Bay, the “blue heart” of South Florida.
Cohorts consist of approximately 40 kids and parents, and I am currently speaking with other community organizations, to create more (and more!) SEAS cohorts. The interest is incredible!
Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience (i.e., campaign, program, victory)?
Creating and managing the SEAS program.
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?
Absolutely! This is SEAS.
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?
When I brought SEAS to Surfrider Miami, to fund the program, I got a resounding, "Yes!" With that, I hit the gas.
With the support of Surfrider, I’d love to bring my SEAS program to each and every chapter. I have no doubt that there is a need in every community.
Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?
That Surfrider advocates - through activism, policy and legislation - for clean water and healthy beaches for all people.
Q: Why is being a part of the Surfrider ocean conservation community important to you?
Now that the SEAS program is operational, and positioned to grow, I know I can make a difference in so many people’s lives; which, in this context, translates to a cleaner, healthier, natural environment, and a cleaner and healthier Biscayne Bay. We are creating new communities of Water Warriors!
If you would like to learn more about Surfrider Miami's SEAS program, please reach out to Karen at email@example.com