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Activist Spotlight: Kelly Jones

Q: What is your current role with the Surfrider Foundation?
I am the Volunteer Coordinator for the Surfrider South Sound Chapter and I also serve as the photographer and “designer” for the South Sound & Grays Harbor chapter websites.

Q: Why and when did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?
My lifelong dream has always been to reside by the ocean. In 2013, I made the big move from Ohio to Washington, eager to embrace a coastal lifestyle. Upon settling in, I promptly became an annual member of the Surfrider Foundation, knowing that my time now split between the Puget Sound and Washington coasts warranted support for ocean conservation efforts. Fast forward to 2022, when an opportunity arose to volunteer with the South Sound Chapter at an event, my husband and I jumped at the chance.

Our involvement grew from beach cleanups to taking on the role of volunteer coordinator within the chapter – a position I was excited to pursue, given my prior experience as a fundraising director for a local 501c3 non-profit back in Ohio. As I became acquainted with Liz Schotman, Surfrider's Washington Regional Manager, I saw an opportunity to expand Surfrider's presence to the Washington Coast, where no chapter existed. Connecting with a group of proactive neighbors at Ocean Shores who were initiating their own plastic pollution reduction efforts, I shared insights about Surfrider's established systems and encouraged them to consider forming a new chapter to amplify their impact. The Grays Harbor Chapter became official in January of 2024.

Kelly Jones With the Surfrider South Sound Chapter at a event on the beach.

Q: What are some environmental issues that are affecting your local community?
Plastic pollution, fossil fuel emissions, and water quality issues are major concerns in the Puget Sound area.

Additionally, rising sea levels, coastal erosion, and plastic pollution are impacting the Washington Coastline. My beach access in Ocean Shores has disappeared due to erosion, leaving a 20-foot drop to reach the water during low tide. This sudden change has been eye-opening and alarming, highlighting the rapid environmental transformations occurring around us.

 Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?
Most recently, I've been busy contributing to launching a new Surfrider chapter, representing Surfrider for Hill Day 2024, and capturing photos as a photographer for local and national chapters. I am also currently designing websites and newsletters for chapters, participating in annual planning retreats for South Sound and Grays Harbor Chapters this past January, and developing an "Earth Day, day of service” beach cleanup project in April with a local high school, in partnership exclusively with the South Sound Chapter.


Q: Are there any specific project's that you have worked on that benefited your community? 
On Earth Day last year, the South Sound Chapter joined forces with the Puyallup Tribe for a beach cleanup on their coastal lands by the Puget Sound. More than 100 dedicated volunteers took part, alongside tribe members who performed a blessing ritual, danced, and generously provided food for all attendees. Additionally, throughout 2023, the South Sound Chapter hosted a series of 11 monthly beach cleanups in and around the southern Puget Sound region, rallying over 500 passionate volunteers who collectively removed an impressive 4,555+ pounds of trash.

This past February, I played a crucial role in the marketing, communications, planning, and execution of the Grays Harbor new chapter launch party.” The event was a success, drawing in a crowd of over 50 enthusiastic attendees!

Kelly Jones With the Surfrider South Sound Chapter picking up trash on a beach

Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience? 
During Hill Day 2024, I proudly represented both the South Sound and Grays Harbor Chapters. It was an empowering experience to advocate for ocean legislation to congressional representatives for the first time. Our meetings with seven WA congressional leaders focused on key priorities such as combating plastic pollution, safeguarding clean water, and halting offshore oil drilling.

Balancing my time between two Surfrider chapters may seem hectic, but I find joy in it. The South Sound Chapter operates like a well-oiled machine, with a seasoned and successful structure. On the other hand, the newly established Gray’s Harbor Chapter, which just launched in January, offers a fresh and exciting opportunity to mentor and guide. Together, we are brainstorming innovative ideas for funding, expanding membership, and recruiting volunteers, particularly in the communities along the Washington Coast.

Additionally, the South Sound Chapter has generously offered financial support to help kickstart the Gray’s Harbor Chapter, demonstrating our strong sense of unity and dedication within the Surfrider family.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider? 
THE OCEAN NEEDS MORE FRIENDS! Big props to whoever came up with this amazing Surfrider slogan, as it speaks to everyone who enjoys the ocean. Surfrider is also a legitimate 501c3 non-profit organization that has been safeguarding the oceans for the past 40 years.

Kelly Jones With the Surfrider South Sound Chapter holding a sign that reads "The Ocean Needs More Friends"

Q: Why is being a part of the Surfrider ocean conservation community important to you?
I'm totally ocean-obsessed! From my photography to where I live, even down to my dog Reef (yes, named after the ocean!). The ocean is my ultimate cure-all, mentally and physically. Volunteering with the Surfrider Foundation has given me purpose, made me friends, and fired me up to protect our oceans and beaches for future ocean lovers.

Q: Anything else? 
If you're not already a member of Surfrider, you should become a friend of the ocean today!

Kelly Jones With the Surfrider South Sound Chapter holding her camera while wearing a wetsuit.