Originally from Southern California, some of my earliest memories are playing in the waves, sitting around a beach bonfire, and watching my uncles surf the breaks near Santa Monica, but it wasn’t until my family moved to North Carolina that I actually paddled into my first wave. Fifty years later I’m still at it, and still just as stoked. Along the way, the surfing life helped shape my worldview and put the ocean at its center. My undergraduate geology degree and graduate work in applied coastal ecology helped inform my beliefs about the importance of science and conservation in managing North Carolina’s uniquely dynamic coastal and offshore systems. I have been a Surfrider member for many years and I am very excited about taking a more active role preserving and protecting our most vital; and perhaps most vulnerable, natural resource.
I love the ocean because it is where I feel most connected to the Earth and to myself. Whether near, in, or on the water, it is where I feel both free and at home. I am part of an ocean-loving family where there isn’t a room in the house without a sailboat painting or a family get-together without stories from my father’s service in the US Coast Guard. From growing up sailing and swimming in the Finger Lakes of New York to spending every family vacation on the beach, I have loved the water for as long as I can remember. I am proud to now call Carolina Beach home and I couldn’t ask for a more incredible place to live. I am passionate about all things that help reduce our negative impact on the environment but I have a particular place in my heart for protecting our beaches and oceans. I believe that through even the smallest actions, each of us has the power to change the world. For this reason, I am grateful to serve as Volunteer Coordinator because it enables me to build relationships that help spread positive change in our community, our local waters, and beyond.
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 when living in upstate New York. The Finger Lakes were a perfect meet up spot for super fun times with friends. 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, Hawaii 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, SUPing the inter-coastal waterway with my lab or working in my own business that revolves around the availability to clean ocean waters, I truly feel lucky to have access to such an amazing environment. I have been a Surfrider member since 2011 and am thrilled to live somewhere that has a strong local Surfrider chapter, so that I can help protect and preserve our waters and beaches.
Abby Spangel Perry
Ocean Friendly Gardens Coordinator
After several semesters of art school in my home state of Pennsylvania I found myself unsure of what a future as an artist would offer. I had already attached myself to the ocean through annual family vacations to the Delaware coast and several summers working my way through college in Ocean City, MD. At the invitation of a friend who was in college at UNCW, I moved south to work at the beach while I contemplated what path my life would take next. I enlistment in an Americorp program with the City of Wilmington and through the experience I discovered the value of grassroots community organization and action. I lived at Wrightsville Beach where I developed an overpowering connection with the natural environment and fell in love with surfing.
These ties to place and a chance meeting with my future husband caused me to make North Carolina my home. I returned to art renewed in purpose at East Carolina University where I received a BFA and later an MFA in Painting & Drawing. Through my studies, I participated in the NC Department of Natural Resources Environmental Education certification program and was awarded an internship through the NC Youth Advocacy Commission at Carolina Beach State Park. I used these experiences in my graduate studies to connect the practice of art to ecology and give visual form to ecological issues.
My connection with Surfrider Foundation began gradually. I became aware of their presence at surf contests and community events and started participating in an occasional beach sweep. Over the last several years I worked with Surfrider as a Chapter volunteer and as Faculty Advisor developing a Quad Club with my employer Cape Fear Community College. In my new role as Ocean Friendly Garden Coordinator I hope to further develop Surfrider Foundation’s presence in the community through my understanding of grassroots environmental outreach and action.
Board Member at Large
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.
Board Member at Large
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.
We weren’t really a “beach” family growing up, skiing was my thing until I fell in love with the beach after moving to Bethany when I was in College. I then became obsessed with the outer banks after a trip there in 1990. The wind, the waves and the feel of that place dug deep into my soul. Surfing was just a natural progression from my general love of the ocean and the dream to learn became a reality after a trip In 2008 to Costa Rica. We’ve since moved to Wrightsville Beach to be closer to the water; I can’t imagine being anywhere else. We joined Surfrider in 2010 and became full fledged members after moving to WB in 2013. We feel it’s really important to be active in protecting this precious resource; I feel genuinely blessed to be able to jump in the water any time I want and I want to do everything in my power to protect it. Surfrider is the vehicle for that desire, not only because of the great people that participate but because of the incredible focus and passion throughout the organization.
Growing up I spent a few weeks every year in Hawaii. Not only was that the location of my first steps in the ocean when I was just under a year old, but I also rode my first wave there at age 11. Though I lived in Illinois at that time, I was obsessed with the ocean. I moved to Wrightsville Beach in 1993 to attend UNCW and got my degree in environmental science. I bounced around the world for a while, but settled back in the area in 2014 with my husband and two children. One of the first things I did upon returning was join the Cape Fear Surfrider chapter to surround myself with people that share my passion for ocean conservation and advocacy. I teach high school environmental science, so it’s very important to me to share my experiences with my students. For me, the greatest part about being a Surfrider member is educating the public, advocating for the protection of our ocean, cleaning up our local beaches, and being a role model for my students and my own children.
I grew up spending my summers in Atlantic Beach, NC. I first tried surfing at five years old, but opted to stand on my boogie board for a few more years. Took up surfing for real when I was twelve. I feel like surfing and the ocean have given me more than I could ever give back. Stewardship is my way of giving back for the many gifts the ocean has given me. Surfrider Foundation has the ability and resources to leverage change in a positive, fun way. Being a part of the organization gives me a sense of purpose and further connects me to the water.
Rise Above Plastics Coordinator
I grew up in South Florida, surfing as much of the East Coast as possible.My love for the ocean developed from this and a sense of stewardship and conservation of this landscape developed as I grew up. I moved to the Cape Fear region 10 years ago with my two daughters as a Registered Nurse and immersed myself in this beautiful beach side community. I’ve been fortunate to travel to Australia, Hawaii, and Central America to see those ocean cultures and how my own culture is as dependent on the ocean as others. I married my friend from High School in 2015 and with her two daughters, we merged our families. Seeing them grow an appreciation for this essential resource spurred me to complete my degree in clinical research at UNCW and vest my time in Surfrider Foundation in our Rise Above Plastics campaign manager. I am so excited to be part of this effort and it’s goal of ridding the impact of plastics on the ocean and its coastal communities.
Water Quality Coordinator
I am a retired fellow, calling the Cape Fear home for forty years. I spent much of my adult life traveling. Upon retirement, I found that I had returned home to a place where my contemplation’s naturally turn to the seashore. A place where I’d hatched out, and spent much of my youth going about daily rhythms found in seaside life. Rhythms that sing of a beautiful day of clean surf, sailing downwind in twenty knots, oyster roasts, the scent from planking a boat with cedar. The Cape Fear is blessed with an extraordinary environment; filled with combinations of the urban, and rural, terrestrial, and maritime. The environment may indeed be the signature rhythm that brings to us at once, unique quality of life, and ever increasing pressures from growth and development. Without a program of mindfulness and sustainability, those pressures stand to compromise something as basic as the quality of our water. For myself, I must admit to having been a somewhat marginal member of Surfrider for too long. Making the odd donation, getting round to renewing the membership…after a bit. By good fortune, examples set by dedicated chapter volunteers displaying tireless energy, a leadership determined not to be denied a water quality program and myself, a sinner redeemed, I hope to pursue water quality with a renewed “fire in my belly”.
Offshore Drilling Coordinator
I grew up in Chicago, near the expansive Lake Michigan – it didn’t do it for me. I moved to the ocean the first chance I got, studying marine science at the University of Miami. From there, I moved up the Atlantic a little to Charleston, S.C. where I studied a bit, and hung out at the beach a bit more. Then I packed up my dog and my bike and drove west to check out the Pacific for a while; I landed on the Central Coast and ended up in San Diego, where I picked up a journalism degree. I spent some time in D.C., where I earned a master’s degree in environmental policy, and where I braved a commute to work from Annapolis to D.C., just to be close to the water. But I knew in my heart, the Chesapeake Bay wasn’t going to cut it either. I found my way back to the sweet, serene Atlantic when I moved with my family to Wilmington in 2013. I currently freelance write for a coastal environmental news source and write an environmental blog. I tried surfing on both coasts, but much prefer to be under the water, scuba diving! I’m grateful and excited to support the efforts of the Cape Fear Surfrider Foundation to prevent the shortsighted and sure-to-be disastrous outcomes should offshore drilling be permitted off our coast.
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 and on a broader perspective hope to advocate for an awareness of the quickly vanishing natural resources so vital to the worlds health and quality of life.