Over the past few weeks we have been introducing our executive committee and getting to know a little more about them. This week we are extremely honored to highlight our Regional Chapter Manager, Sarah. She plays a key role in our chapter, guiding and mentoring us. Sarah is responsible for the Southeast, Great Lakes and Texas chapters, and supports many Surfrider initiatives. Please read on to find out more about Sarah.
1. Why and when did you get involved with Surfrider?
I got involved with Surfrider Foundation in 2006. I was a community organizer and canvass director in Ohio working on environmental justice issues, but I was being called to live and work near the ocean, which had carved out a deep niche in my heart over my youth. I was looking to relocate to Santa Cruz, California, and in researching the move and employment opportunities, I learned about Surfrider Foundation (–Surfrider didn’t have any Great Lakes chapters at that time). Surfrider was looking for someone to help Central California Chapters build capacity. I remember reading that job posting and getting a huge smile on my face just thinking about the prospect of getting to do work I love in a place I love and learning to surf. A total dream! Long story short, I was hired, and had the extraordinary opportunity to work with outstanding coast-lovers, learn about coastal environmental issues, and become a mediocre surfer.
2. What local issue affecting Charlotte are you fighting for?
My job as a regional manager is to support chapters in taking action on issues that they are passionate about. Surfrider has a broad base of initiatives we work on – from water quality, to plastic pollution, to coastal preservation, to beach access, to ocean protection – and chapters are encouraged to identify specific issues under that umbrella that most effect their communities. The Charlotte Chapter is most interested in plastic pollution and Ocean Friendly Gardens right now, so I’m working with the leadership team to define activities to implement in those realms.
3. What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience?
As an organizer, I love meeting the people who care about the coast and have stepped up to lead action to protect the places they love. Helping someone evolve from a coast-lover to a coast-saver is super rewarding! My most rewarding campaign was Open Martins Beach, where we fought for the rights of the public to be able to access a beach people had been documented as visiting for over 100 years, but that had been closed to the public by the billionaire who bought the land between the road and the beach. Having actually read the stories and seen the pictures of so many families documenting their family’s history and life moments from birth to death to everything in between taking place at this beach, that campaign felt very personal to me.
4. What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?
Surfrider is a vehicle for your coastal activism. We’re not some group of people that saves the coast for you; rather, we are a group that you can be a part of to help save the coast yourself.
5. Why are you a Surfrider Coastal Defender?
I believe in the power of grassroots action!
6. Where is your favorite beach or coastal area to visit from Charlotte?
Living out of state, I have only ever briefly visited Lake Norman and Lake Wylie – I have much more exploring to do of Charlotte’s waterways!
7. What is your favorite water- or outdoor-related activity to do in the Charlotte area?
I love being in, on, or near water – swimming, paddling, boating, camping – and hope to be able to do more of this in the Charlotte area in the future.