Protect what you love: Surfrider engages and salutes community volunteers

Surfrider engages community volunteers to participate in beach cleanups.Photo provided by Surfrider

Sustainability Now News
by Maryann Ridini Spencer (@MaryannRidiniSpencer)

“Protect what you love,” is one of Surfrider Foundation’s mottos underscoring the need for every individual to take a proactive stance to preserve and protect our ocean, waves, and beaches.

Putting that motto into action, Surfrider, through a powerful activist network, engages community volunteers to participate in monthly beach cleanups to help stop contributing to the now over approximately 5.25 trillion deadly pieces of plastic in the ocean. Their Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG) program, which teaches CPR — conservation, permeability, and retention, is also a vital, growing contribution to aid in the health of our watersheds.

Other programs include a Blue Water Task Force, a volunteer-run water testing, education, and advocacy program that alerts citizens and officials about water quality programs whereby they can work together toward solutions. The Smartfin project allows surfers to become citizen scientists, turning wave sets into data when surfers wear a fin with sensors that measure important ocean properties.

“Ocean Friendly Restaurants, is one of our newer programs that is focused on reducing our plastic and water footprint,” said Bill Hickman, Southern California Regional Manager, Surfrider. “Volunteers help assist in educating restaurant owners how to make more sustainable choices by eliminating expanded polystyrene use (Styrofoam), recycling practices, using reusable tableware, no plastic bags offered for takeout or to-go orders, and providing straws and utensils for takeout only upon request.”

To promote community engagement and rally support, Surfrider holds monthly chapter meetings open to anyone who wishes to attend. “We listen to guest speakers who are experts in their fields talk about subjects vital to our mission as well as discuss chapter news,” said Hickman. “It’s a casual, social atmosphere and we provide light snacks and drinks.

At Surfrider’s December 4th Chapter meeting, the foundation held their second annual “Volunteer Appreciation” Recognition Ceremony where they presented 40 volunteers with certificates and a personalized thank you gift.

“Volunteers are the backbone of our organization, and we felt it important to honor those that go above and beyond,” said Hickman. “Our coast always needs protection. Our volunteers are the protectors. They are also essential in getting our voice and mission heard. More volunteers translate into more voice, and that voice is needed, especially when it comes to making a difference by crafting legislation to protect what we love.”

Surfrider holds Monthly Chapter meetings in Patagonia’s retail store, 235 W Santa Clara Street in Downtown Ventura the first Tuesday of most months from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. For more information on Surfrider and our calendar of events, visit:


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