Cape Fear Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation
Board Member at Large
Sean Ahlum spent his formative years in southern New Jersey with his Pop-Pop, waking before sunrise to bail boats and set minnow traps in the tidal marsh behind his house. It is here where he learned his major life-lessons and also began a life-long love affair with the coastal environment of his home. Learning to surf in the fast hollow beach breaks of New Jersey, he developed a passion for the sport that still exists today. His Pop-Pop’s prophetic comment that Sean would never be anything more than an educated beach bum with his brains in his feet has set the course for his life. Sean also currently sits as the faculty/staff advisor to the UNCW Surfrider Group, the chair of Surfrider Foundation’s Board of Directors, a board of trustee for FOR Masonboro Island, and a state appointed representative on the Masonboro Island Local Advisory Committee.
Board Member at Large
Al Meadowcroft has been a resident of the Cape Fear Region for the past 15 year and has been surfing the world’s coasts for over thirty years. Al’s major reason for being involved with the Cape Fear Chapter is to preserve and protect the oceans and beaches for future generations while supporting education and awareness to current and future lovers of the ocean and environment. Al has been a member of the Cape Fear Chapter executive committee for the past 7 years.
I moved to Wrightsville Beach in 2005 from Virginia and relocated to Carolina Beach in 2009. I started surfing in Virginia Beach and in the OBX. Surfing has been a guiding light in my life providing a physical release along with an emotional and spiritual connection to this world and the forces beyond. As a shaper making custom boards for the right waves also provides an artistic expression. Environmental consciousness has been a part of my whole life, from growing up gardening, spending time in the woods, sailing and fishing in the Chesapeake Bay, culminating in surfing and fishing here on the Cape Fear Coast. I feel very fortunate to live in Carolina Beach surrounded by the beautiful waterway, yacht basin, river, and ocean. This appreciation is the driving force to be a good steward of our natural environment. I joined Surfrider in 2004 during undergraduate studies. Once I found out there was a grass roots organization working hard to help protect the things on this earth I love so dearly I knew I had to help out and become a member.
Rise Above the Plastics Coordinator
Bonnie Monteleone comes from land-lock Elmira, NY where the closest thing to an ocean was the largest Finger Lake – Seneca. It was there she learned her love for the water whether she would be swimming, windsurfing, water skiing, or ice-skating. At age 5, Bonnie saw the ocean for the first time and knew then she would be back to stay. It took 40 more years, but by August of 2004, she made the North Atlantic coast her home. Her love for the ocean grew as she learned to scuba dive, paddleboard, and surf. But it hasn’t been all fun and games.
Three years ago, Bonnie went back to school to get her master’s in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program at UNCW. There she learned of the problems with plastic in the marine environment and decided to research this malaise for her final project. The research led to meeting and working with Captain Charles Moore sailing across the North Pacific “Garbage Patch” assisting with the 10-year anniversary resampling in that region. She also spearheaded sampling the North Atlantic with Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences as well as sailing from Brazil to South Africa with 5 Gyres Institute. Sailing the cobalt blue became another ocean passion with nearly 8,000 nautical miles at sea. To her chagrin all 137 samples from the three gyres contained plastics and has fueled her fervor for outreach. Bonnie has presented her findings to audiences both nationally and internationally.
Currently, Bonnie lives in Wilmington, NC and works in the UNCW Chemistry Office. She volunteers for the UNCW Marine Mammal Stranding Program, maintains a NC Monofilament Recovery and Recycling receptacle at Johnny Mercer Peer, is a member of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, and manages www.theplasticocean.blogspot.com. Bonnie cannot get enough of caring for the blue planet and connecting with those who feel the same.
Most recently, Bonnie joined Surfrider as the coordinator of Rise Above Plastics for the Surfrider Cape Fear Chapter and looks forward to working in tandem with Surfrider.
Growing up in the mid-west life didn’t start with surfing, but after 23 years in the Army and living in and around different parts of the world surfing quickly became a major part of my lifestyle. Having lived in many places overseas, California, Hawaii and now North Carolina I find the ocean, nature, and the environment as a whole have been an important and integral element of my life. When not spending time in the ocean I make my way capturing moments in images which I promote thru JMP Studio LLC and on a broader perspective hope to promote an awareness of the quickly vanishing natural resources so vital to the worlds health and quality of life. I live by the mantra “…travel to the ends of the earth…weather any hardship…endure the harshest extremes …what ever it takes…to live in the moment! Life is short so work hard to enjoy it and ensure its a better place when your gone.”
For as long as I can remember, I have been a water lover. Growing up outside of Philadelphia, the Jersey shore beaches were a playground for my friends and I. The Outer Banks were a go-to destination each summer for my family. The love continued even when living in central New York. The Finger Lakes were (and still are) a perfect meet up spot for super fun times with friends each summer. With a surfing-obsessed husband, most of our vacations involve the ocean as well. We have made some amazing memories, and friends, while catching waves in Costa Rica, Fiji and California.
Today, I am lucky enough to be fulfilling a life-long dream of living on the beach. Whether it’s running the beach, surfing the waves or SUPing the intercoastal waterway with my lab, I truly feel lucky to have access to such an amazing environment.
I have been a Surfrider member since 2011 and am thrilled to now live somewhere that offers a strong local chapter, so that I can help protect and preserve our waters and beaches. As Volunteer Coordinator, I look forward to recruiting new members and coordinating volunteers to help pull off our many fab events! Feel free to contact me if you’re interested in volunteering with the Cape Fear Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.
My love of the ocean started from growing up on the coast of Maine, where I spent my summers exploring the tide pools, kayaking, and sailing. In high school I started SCUBA diving, but it was not until moving to Hawaii in 2009 that I first started surfing. I couldn’t imagine a life away from the ocean, so I decided to make a career out of spending time at the beach. I moved to Wilmington in 2011 to attend graduate school at UNCW and am currently working on my PhD in Marine Biology. I’ve been lucky to travel around the world for my work – the Bahamas, Panama, Mexico, Vanuatu, Hawaii – and I’ve marveled at how amazing and beautiful our oceans are. But I’ve also seem first hand how pollution and poor management can devastate our oceans and beaches. These
experiences have taught me that it is up to each one of us to take a stand in protecting our oceans. I am excited to be a part of the Surfrider Foundation and am so proud of all the great work they are accomplishing globally and locally.
I grew up in Wilmington, NC where my affinity for the ocean naturally led me to surfing. I have a great appreciation for our region and feel truly fortunate to live here. My involvement with Surfrider is a direct reflection of that.