Charity Profile: Surfrider Foundation
In 1984, the Summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles, the first ever TED conference took place in Monterey and a prized surf break in Malibu was experiencing irreparable harm. Development and pollution were threatening Surfrider Beach’s pristine waves and coastline, so a group of impassioned surfers, led by Glenn Hening, organized and protested to California State Park officials. They emerged victorious, and more than 30 years later their role as the voice of the ocean continues through the Surfrider Foundation—an organization whose tireless fight for the preservation of our oceans and coastlines is more crucial than ever. “Our nation’s coasts are under siege from threats like offshore drilling, plastic pollution and shoreline development,” says Pete Stauffer, the organization’s environmental director. “The Surfrider Foundation is fighting to keep our coasts protected and open to the public through our grassroots network of chapters and supporters.”
Today, Surfrider has nearly 100 volunteer chapters, but the organization remains rooted in its humble beginnings, encouraging the powerful role individuals can play by being proactive. Surfrider’s partnerships manager Mary Herbranson takes inspiration from this empowering model. “I’ve always felt a duty to preserve the coastline and encourage others to do the same,” she says. “Surfrider Foundation enables people to find their role in ocean protection, whether they attend a casual beach cleanup, a volunteer event a few times a year or step into a role organizing activists around local issues.”
Beach access, clean water, coastal preservation, ocean protection and plastic pollution are all covered under Surfrider’s broad, beach-focused umbrella. The organization works at the local, regional and national level to engage communities in raising awareness, create solutions by working with environmental experts and craft policies aimed at taking better care of our planet’s oceans. Its programs include the Blue Water Task Force, a highly successful volunteer-run program used for water testing and raising public awareness.
Sean Iglehart, owner of Sweetwater Bar & Grill in Boynton, Florida, has been a longtime supporter of Surfrider Foundation, and last year Sweetwater donated to the nonprofit during Negroni Week. “I grew up in Palm Beach surfing my whole life,” says Iglehart. “My dad was a surfer, one of the few down here in the ‘50s and ‘60s. It was a culture I grew up in, being around the beach and also being conscious of the environmental impact we, as people, have.”
Now, the alarm those first surfers sounded rings even louder. “Today, it’s critical that Surfrider continues to stand up for what is best for our beaches,” says Herbranson. “We’re continuing to fight for the quality of life in beach communities, for the millions of people and countless communities who rely on the coastline and ocean for their livelihoods, for the incredible ecosystem under the water’s surface and for future generations.”
Story by Emma Mannheimer / Photo courtesy of Jeroen Bendeler