2018 was a banner year for our Ocean City chapter! Our volunteers worked incredibly hard, and we saw some immediate results of our efforts.
Our focus throughout the year was to create and implement a program to align with Surfrider’s Rise Above Plastics campaign. We designed our Strawless Summer awareness program to encourage people to think about their single-use plastic habits, and make better choices. Restaurants that signed our pledge served plastic straws only when asked, and individuals requested ‘no straws’ when at a restaurant. Some restaurants even went further by offering environmentally-friendly straws.
We created an online pledge, which was signed by almost 500 individuals and over 60 restaurants. Restaurants signing the pledge received posters, flyers and buttons for the servers to wear. We’re going to continue our Strawless Summer program through 2019, and because of our success this past summer, the town of Ocean City is using our Strawless initiative as the stepping stone in recognizing restaurants that commit to further source-reduction practices to reduce the use of plastic and foam in our community. Here’s our online pledge. Please sign it if you haven’t already. https://form.jotform.com/8054447938416
Our poster for Strawless Summer was created by Marina Feeser, our chapter Secretary. We’re proud of the design, and restaurants loved having it to display for customers. They also received flyers to give customers, and buttons for servers to wear.
One part of the Rise Above Plastics campaign is our Ocean-Friendly Restaurant program. We started 2018 with one, Mother’s Cantina, and registered four more by the summer. Joining Mother’s is Pickle’s Pub, 45th Street Taphouse, 4th Street Taphouse, and Tall Tales Brewery in Parsonsburg. They all signed our Strawless Summer pledge, but have taken further steps to protect our coastal community. If you are interested in becoming an Ocean-Friendly restaurant or want more info, here’s the link: https://oceancity.surfrider.org/campaigns/programs/ocean-friendly-restaurants/
Besides focusing on single-use plastics and minimizing their use in our community, our other focus is preventing seismic treating and offshore drilling off our coast, which is a national Surfrider campaign. The current administration has put both back on the table and with other environmental groups, we’re working to stop it. As a matter of fact, we’re taking the federal government to court. Read more about our organization’s efforts here: https://earthjustice.org/news/press/2018/groups-sue-feds-to-stop-seismic-airgun-blasting-in-atlantic-ocean?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social
Here’s what we were involved in this year!
Volunteers attended two public meetings, in Dover and Annapolis, talking to BOEM reps about the federal government’s plans for offshore drilling. While there, environmental groups spoke out about the dangers of the plan.
We had a movie screening at Mother’s Cantina, one of our Ocean-Friendly Restaurants, which was sold out! We showed the movie A Plastic Ocean, revealing the problems with the prevalence of single-use plastics in our world. Folks watched the movie and enjoyed tacos and drinks. There was a discussion of plastics, and we introduced our Strawless Summer program.
We spported Assateague Coastal Trust at ‘Dinner And a Movie at Shotti’s Point’ event, showing a Surfrider movie about the dangers of offshore drilling.
Dr. Malcolm Taylor, our Volunteer Coordinator, traveled to Washington DC with Surfrider volunteers from all over the country for Ocean Recreation Hill Day. The volunteers spoke to members of Congress about important coastal issues.
Dr. Taylor also testified to the MD State Senate Committee on Environment in support of a bill calling for a statewide ban on EPS Foam (styrofoam) food packaging.
We participated in the Ocean City Trade Expo at the Ocean City Convention Center. We tabled and spoke to restaurant owners and businesses about our campaigns and programs, and introduced our Strawless Summer program.
One of our main ways to engage with the public and take care of our beautiful beach is through beach cleanups. We started the 2018 cleanups with our St Patty’s Day cleanup at the Inlet.
Our Chair Jane Robinson, and past Vice Chair Erica Amalfitano tabled at the 21st Annual Tortoise & Hare Dare 5K Walk Run at Shad Landing State Park in Snow Hill, MD.
We tabled at the first OP Bay Day at the Ocean Pines Community Center. This event included hands-on activities and educational outreach about environmental issues on the Eastern Shore. Our Secretary Marina Feeser was interviewed by 97.1 The Wave about single-use plastics and our Strawless Summer program.
The annual Hands Across the Sand event was held in partnership with Oceana Mid-Atlantic and Assateague Coastal Trust at Assateague State Park. This event encourages people to gather at the ocean’s edge and join hands to show solidarity in opposition to oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic.
Besides our Strawless Summer poster and flyer artwork created to promote our program, 97.1 The Wave gave us free air time, and The Seaboard advertising vessel with a digital billboard that travels the entire coast of Ocean City gave us free space. We’re grateful to them for helping us make more people aware of our Strawless program.
We are excited to have two Surfrider Student Clubs in 2018. Stephen Decatur High School was the first to join, and Pocomoke Middle School also created a club. We had a cleanup the end of May with Pocomoke Middle, and both schools determine what they want to do as far as projects for the year. Students are encouraged to join us at our events throughout the year.
During Ravens Beach Bash weekend, a tradition in Ocean City every summer, the Ravens Cheerleaders wanted to join our Surfrider chapter and visit some Strawless Summer restaurants. They traveled on the boardwalk with our Treasurer Cindy Straka, visited Strawless restaurants and talked to a few others about joining the program.
International Surfing Day is an annual Surfrider event. It’s a fun day where folks get together and enjoy the ocean. We brought the Surfrider mini oil rig that people signed to show opposition to offshore drilling. We had Ocean City Beach Patrol members come by and sign too!
We co-hosted a beach cleanup with Buckets on the Beach. We participated in a couple of cleanups with them this summer in July and August.
We had a great time for two nights in August, first at K-Coast Surf Shop, then Quiet Storm with professional surfers Brett Barley, Quentin Turko, and Torrey Meister. There were movies, food, and raffles. Sanuk generously donated the proceeds from the raffles to us!
We teamed up with Assateague Coastal Trust for a corporate outing cleanup with North American Breweries at Assateague State Park.
Surfrider celebrated its 34th birthday on Aug 22, as well as celebrated its 500 coastal victory. Here’s a video with more information: https://www.surfrider.org/coastal-blog/entry/surfrider-reaches-historic-milestone-with-500th-coastal-victory
Ocean City Beach Patrol Crew 4 is a big supporter of our chapter. Not only do they promote environmental practices from their lifeguard stands, but they do beach cleanups. Crew 4 also supported Surfrider with the VISSLA/Surfrider Foundation collaboration boardshorts that they wore while competing at their annual OCBP Crew Competition.
We were cohosts for the annual Float for the Coast, joining Assateague Coastal Trust and Oceana Mid Atlantic at Fish Tales. Kayakers paddled to the Convention Center in the bay and held up signs and banners protesting offshore drilling.
We participated in a joint cleanup with the Delaware chapter, along with DNREC, at the North Side at Indian River Inlet. Over 50 volunteers came out to help.
Throughout the summer and fall, we were a sponsor of the 5 local ESA (Eastern Surfing Association) surf contests. They are great amateur events and include all ages and abilities. During these events, we provide free water to those bringing reusable bottles. We also run the contests’ recycling station.
We hold monthly chapter meetings, and encourage people interested in protecting our coast to join us. We would love more volunteers!
Jane Robinson, chapter Chair, and Marina Feeser, chapter Secretary, attended Surfrider’s 2018 East Coast Chapter Leadership Conference in Virginia Beach. The conference provided opportunities to network and collaborate on programs/campaigns and help us strategize to protect our coast.
We had our Strawless Summer celebration at 45th Street Taphouse to Celebrate our success, and recognize our supporters of the program. Attendees enjoyed getting together and the chapter raised some money with donated raffle prizes.
Our last cleanup of the year was held the day after Thanksgiving, which was bitterly cold. There was a big turnout for the Turkey Day Trash Trot held at the inlet, as well as a large amount of trash collected.
Our Strawless Summer program was fully supported by the Town of Ocean City and a resolution was passed by the City Council in recognition of our chapter’s work. Read about the resolution here: https://www.oceancitytoday.com/news/surfrider-s-strawless-summer-campaign-honored/article_267622f4-f409-11e8-a2a0-3f487ebc3ce9.html
Surfrider has joined forces with other environmental/agricultural groups on the Lower Shore to bring about changes to our water, land, air, soil and community. LESEN (Lower Eastern Shore Engagement Network) held a meet & greet event at Evo’s in Salisbury where community members could learn about each group and ask questions.
We’re looking forward to 2019!