By Eva Tahernia
University of Florida, University of Miami, University of North Florida, and Viera High School. What do these schools have in common? Surfrider. The Surfrider foundation is an international grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves, and beaches through a powerful activist network. The youth division of the foundation is called QUAD and is led by various schools across the country looking to make a difference – Viera included.
Surfrider was founded in 1984 by a couple of California surfers, frustrated with threats to their surf turf. The program now describes the organization’s advocates as surfers, beachgoers, and pretty much anyone cares about the coasts. The organization continued to grow for several years as a loose advocacy group until 1991, when the first chapters were founded. At that point, the Surfrider Foundation transitioned into a grassroots activist organization. Club member Emily Hazen explains, “Surfrider is an international foundation that is dedicated to promoting awareness of environmental issues along the coast and helping to solve those problems.” Several celebrities have supported and partnered with Surfrider, including singer Jason Mraz and pro surfer Kelly Slater. Now, chapters are established all over the globe, from Japan to Argentina, and now, Viera High School.
The idea to create a Surfrider club at Viera High School stems from four juniors, a peanut, a tuna can, and a little spark. A spark of fire, that is. This combination would seem extraordinarily odd to normal people, but to AP Chemistry students, it’s a tuna can calorimeter lab. Inspired by a similar program at Kennedy Middle School, the students agreed on attempting to do the same while waiting for results in chemistry. To create some buzz, the ambitious students quickly found a sponsor for the club and set up posters and other advertisements. When asked why they wanted to start up Surfrider at Viera High School, club founder Amelia Giannasi elaborates, “We started the VHS Surfrider because we’re in an ideal location to find people that are interested in helping to protect our beaches.” And here in Brevard County, we sure do have bunch of those.
So what exactly does the club do? According to junior Annalia Foster, “We hold several beach cleanups and do an art project at the end of the year that symbolizes what we do and what the club is about.” Surfrider VHS has already successfully completed a beach cleanup, and plans to do a lot more next year. Potential opportunities include working along with the Cocoa Beach chapter or with Keep Brevard Beautiful. If you are interested in joining, however, your burning desire will have to wait, since Surfrider VHS already has had their last meeting of the school year.