About a year or two ago my brother John decided to open up a chapter of Surfrider. The mission of the Surfrider Foundation is the protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network. But you can’t surf in the Midwest, right? Think again, and be sure to watch Unsalted: A Great Lakes Experience! In fact, Sheboygan, Wisconsin has some of the best surfing in the Midwest and hosts the annual Dairyland Surf Classic, the largest lake surfing competition in the world. Since there is a chapter up in Minnesota, my brother felt it was necessary to have a presence on Lake Michigan. So, over about a year I have been integral in helping him out with social media, marketing and treasurer duties and was able to attend the East Coast Chapter Summit this past weekend in Long Beach, New York.
Over the weekend at the summit we were able to attend breakout sessions to learn from about 30 other chapters, listen to Jim Moriarty (CEO) speak, and it was overall a wonderful experience. We took away many great ideas that hopefully will drive the membership of our chapter, and listened to some presentations that have inspired programs/campaigns. One was a 5 gyres presentation on the concentration of plastic found in our oceans and lakes. There are 350 million square kilometers of ocean, and 73 million pounds of plastic (a plastic soup in the gyres regions if you will)…wow, but there are easy things you can do to make a big difference. Some other things covered were Jim’s 6-year strategic review, core training, Rising Above Plastics campaign, fundraising/event planning panels, ocean ecosystems and the focus on offshore drilling, coastal preservation, engaging youth and using the chapter website as an interface, among other things.
So why form a WI-Great Lakes Surfrider Chapter? Because, surprisingly, there are actually a good number of people in Wisconsin who surf, whether on Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, or other Wisconsin water (rivers/lakes) who believe in the principles and mission of the Surfrider Foundation. The region boasts many sailboarders, wakeboarders, kiteboarders, kayakers, stand up paddleboarders (SUPs), and watermen and waterwomen in general who support the Surfrider vision and want to contribute to preserving our water resources here in Wisconsin. I really hope you can support the organization by liking WI-Great Lakes Surfrider on Facebook, and following them on twitter. Better yet, come surf with us! Just be sure to bring a wetsuit.