All five Washington chapters were represented at the Surfrider West Coast Leadership Conference which took place September 29th to October 1st in Marin County, CA. With a contingent of some of our strongest and most active chapter leaders gaining new knowledge and tools to advance our mission, the Surfrider WA network will be even more adept to tackle ocean and beach issues in our state.
In most years, chapter conferences are more regional in focus. Our Washington network generally takes part in the Surfrider Cascadia Conference which alternates between Oregon and Washington but also has attendees from British Columbia. The Surfrider West Coast Conference was the first in five years to bring chapters together from the seven different western states and provinces where Surfrider operates and featured close to 140 volunteers and staff.
Following an intro speech from author of The Blue Mind, J. Nichols, the group was treated to join others for a showing of documentary films or to enjoy their own time. The bulk of the conference took place Saturday with key organization and mission driven subjects covered. CEO Chad Nelsen began with an overview on the current status of the organization and where it is headed. There were also intriguing updates on branding and marketing along with presentations on ocean and beach science and policy. Effective chapter models and tactics were also shared providing more information and tools for our network in WA and along the west coast.
Longstanding campaigns in Washington such as Marine Spatial Planning and Shoreline Master Programs were shared with attendees in hopes they would better understand the work happening here and ideally find applicable information to apply to their home state. The same was true for our WA members who learned how major chapters like San Diego operate, utilizing new Surfrider programs like Ocean Friendly Restaurants, and ways to get involved locally on key issues such as ocean acidification.
Following the long day, chapters were treated to an amazing sunset in this stunning location and a social at a local surf shop featuring live music, snacks, and beverages. A major highlight of the evening was the presentation of a Surfrider Wavemaker award to Northwest Straits Chapter Chair Eleanor Hines for Outstanding Contribution to the organization. Very deserved for her years of dedication to our mission.
All conference goers seemed to really enjoy themselves and left with more skills, tools, network connections, and support from Surfrider staff to help their amazing volunteer efforts. A big thank you to our Washington contingent who made the trip down. The crew is ready to share the information they received at the conference with their chapters to develop new and successful programs to benefit your local beach. Attend one of the upcoming fall chapter meetings to learn more about what the conference and to best find out how you can get involved with your local Surfrider crew.