As we continue to spotlight our volunteers, it is just as important to highlight those members/volunteers that have taken their activism to the next level by taking on a leadership role within our chapter. This week we celebrate our leader, Gavin Hribar. Gavin is the chairperson of our chapter. A passionate, dedicated visionary, Gavin started volunteering with us a few years ago, quickly gelled with the chapter and has been an amazing leader. Gavin has served as Membership Coordinator and is a strong advocate for our mission of protecting and enjoying Charlotte’s lakes and rivers, as well as our world’s ocean, waves and beaches. Gavin leads sustainability efforts for large corporations, which pairs well with our chapter’s mission. Thank you Gavin for your leadership and dedication.
Why and when did you get involved with Surfrider?
It all started for me visiting the Outer Banks every summer since I can remember. I’d tumble in the surf all day and that’s all that seemed to matter. As I got older and eventually settled in Charlotte, I started looking for opportunities to give back and connect with others in a way that aligned with my passions for the ocean and sustainability. I went to a local Surfrider happy hour in 2015 and knew right away that I wanted to get involved.
What local issue affecting Charlotte are you fighting for?
As one of the fastest growing urban areas in the country, Charlotte’s rapid development puts a strain on our local waterways that get overwhelmed by increased runoff during heavy rains. Flooding is the most visible impact, but street litter and pollutants get swept into our creeks, degrading water quality and wildlife habitat. Luckily we have great organizations dedicated to preserving green space that naturally absorbs that runoff, but there’s a lot of growth to keep up with and Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Gardens program would be a great complement to those existing efforts.
What has been a highlight of your Surfrider experience?
Connecting with other like-minded organizations and individuals in the area. So many people move here from all over the country and it can take time to find your groove. Charlotte has all of the ingredients but you have to look for them and then make the effort. It’s been really rewarding to find other passionate and inspiring people through Surfrider and feed off of that collective energy.
What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?
That you don’t have to live on the coast (or surf) to have an impact. Even from 200 miles away we can still support the health of our coastal ecosystems and communities. The local seafood we enjoy (and local fishing economy we support); demand for renewable energy to fight against offshore drilling and seismic blasting; clean and healthy local waterways that eventually funnel into the Atlantic; all of these lead to a vibrant and resilient future for us all.
Why are you a Surfrider Coastal Defender?
The ocean has given me so many wonderful experiences and taught me lasting lessons on humility, respect, patience, and flow. Naturally I want to give back however I can and protect that which I (and others) enjoy. And not just because so many of us enjoy it, but because even more of us rely on it in ways we may not realize.
Where is your favorite beach or coastal area to visit from Charlotte?
I still make the trek to the Outer Banks at least once a year, but among the closer beaches I love going to Wrightsville or Folly. Hard to pick a favorite though; there’s so much to explore along the Southeast coast.
What is your favorite water- or outdoor-related activity to do in the Charlotte area?
I love paddling at Mountain Island and stringing up a hammock along a quiet part of the lake. Great trail running there, too.