This week we meet Tony Dobson, current vice-chair of our chapter. Tony co-founded the chapter back in 2013, taking on the chair role for many years. Tony also co-leads our Rise Above Plastics Committee. Check out our exclusive interview below to hear more about Tony and why he is a coastal defender.

sailing charleston south carolina
  1. Why and when did you get involved with Surfrider? 

I originally started to volunteer with Surfrider when I live in Florida, and then in 2013 I moved to Charlotte and knew right away we needed a chapter here. With three large lakes and the Catawba River, not to mention Mountain Island Lake being the drinking water source for the city, I was convinced that a Surfrider chapter here would fit right in and be able to bring that same mission of protecting what we love around our coasts to our city.  So I started the Charlotte chapter bringing the Surfrider mission to our city.   

  • What local issue affecting Charlotte are you fighting for?

Plastic pollution is a major issue, you see it everywhere.  There has been a common push lately to reduce single use plastics, and it is something I have been working on in our chapter since day 1.  I think through awareness and education we can help make Charlotte a leading city when it comes to recycling, sustainability and other impactful ways to reduce and eliminate single use plastics.

  • What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience?

It is hard to name one.  I have had so many great opportunities with Surfrider, from regional conferences to leading and participating in local cleanups.  Every encounter and experience is so unique and rewarding.  One highlight that comes to mind was in the summer of 2015 when I was invited to speak at a Surfrider Board of Directors meeting in Wilmington.  Our chapter won the International Surfing Day Membership Drive that summer and it was an honor to highlight our chapter and the efforts we were making in our area.

  • What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?

I always tell people you don’t have to surf, you just have to care.  Being far from the coast most people in Charlotte haven’t heard of Surfrider.  So it is a challenge to build our brand here.  Often times people tell me they don’t surf, thinking we are a surfing club.  When I start to go in to all that we do, and what it is we are fighting for, they immediately get hooked.  That’s what I love about us, there is no single persona that fits.

  • Why are you a Surfrider Coastal Defender?

I love the ocean & the beaches.  I love to surf, sail, scuba dive.  You name it, if it has to do with the ocean, I love it.  I am a coastal defender because I have seen the devastating effects we have had on our ocean.  I want my kids, and their kids, and their kids, to still have our amazing beaches and ocean when they are older. 

  • Where is your favorite beach or coastal area to visit from Charlotte?

Folly Beach is one of my favorites.  It is one of our closest beaches and has great surf.  I also got married a few years ago right on the sand so it has an extra special meaning.  But also I love exploring new beaches.  If there’s a beach, I’ll go.

  • What is your favorite water or outdoor-related activity to do in the Charlotte area?

Here in Charlotte I love to be on the water, boating and sailing.  I’m trying to explore more of the scuba spots around here as well.