What a year! Like everyone else, we had to navigate a confusing time to resume our in-person activities, with precautions of course. While our chapter still faced challenges with COVID restrictions and less volunteer capacity after the pandemic, we are proud of our accomplishments that came about in the last year.
Overall, we are happy to say we revitalized our programs by bringing back in-person events to engage volunteers more regularly. We even filled a volunteer coordinator position after a long vacancy, completing our Executive Committee. We hosted a hugely successful Surf Movie Night fundraiser at the Southampton Arts Center for the first time. The East Hampton Middle School Surfrider Club worked with us more than ever before, as they helped us with our new Ocean Friendly Garden, spread Surfrider cheer in the East Hampton Centennial parade, and hosted their own beach cleanup. Our chapter saw growth in many ways: new members, new partnerships, increased social media following and email subscribers, and more event participation.
Read below for specific program achievements!
Our Blue Water Task Force expanded as we added new sites and volunteers in Sag Harbor and East Hampton. We collected our first North Fork samples with the help of our partners at Peconic Baykeeper, who received funding to expand their sampling route. And thanks to support from grant funders, we were able to purchase a brand new incubator for our lab which was large enough to accommodate more samples and achieve higher quality results. This is a good thing, since we collected more samples than ever before! Our 2020 Blue Water Task Force Report was also published towards the end of summer.
We completed a huge Ocean Friendly Garden project at Methodist Lane in East Hampton. The bioswale was designed with help from Piazza Horticultural to collect and filter stormwater runoff that previously covered the village green during big storms. To do this, we replaced nearly 17,000 square feet of semi-impermeable turf lawn with a native meadow of 12,000 plants and 24 native trees. We engaged volunteers and the East Hampton Middle School Surfrider Club in a planting day in early June and cleanup day in November.
We re-launched our Ocean Friendly Restaurant Program. This involved a social media campaign highlighting our existing OFR’s to recognize participating restaurants, which led to an article in East Hampton Star. We recruited two new restaurants so far and set a new goal of reaching 20 participating restaurants total by July 2022. We also held an event at The Maidstone for volunteer appreciation and OFR promotion on Black Friday, after a wet and cold cleanup. We think the fireside hot chocolates and hot toddies were appreciated!
We continued our fight against plastic pollution through beach cleanups and campaigns. We supported the East Hampton helium balloon ban which successfully passed in East Hampton by sending a letter of support using our beach cleanup data and speaking in three Town Board meetings. We hosted 19 beach cleanups, removing over 688 pounds of trash from our beaches and engaging approximately 345 volunteers!
Looking back on all that we were able to do in 2021, we are inspired to make 2022 even better. Want to join us? Fill out our volunteer questionnaire, register for our virtual January chapter meeting, check our calendar for upcoming events, or join or renew as a member. We will need all the ocean activists we can get as we plan for an exciting year ahead!