With helping hands from Maia Steffens, left, Surfrider Pacific Rim chapter manager Lilly Woodbury cuts a kelp ribbon to officially open the environmental non-profits’ permanent office at the Ecolodge. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

Surfrider Pacific Rim sets up shop at Ecolodge in Tofino Botanical Gardens

Folks are encouraged to drop in with ideas and join the knowledge sharing hub.

‘As your garden grows, so will you’, read the chalkboard message at the entrance of the Tofino Botanical Gardens.

How apropos indeed, especially for our local Surfrider chapter having finally, after years of working nomadically out of living rooms and coffee shops, put down roots in the Ecolodge.

“You’re all a part of this,” said chapter manager Lilly Woodybury at a gathering held on Aug. 10 to celebrate the occasion.

“Thank you for helping us come this far and reach this milestone. It’s really exciting. We are just going to continue to grow and make Clayoquot Sound, Barkley Sound, and the entire Pacific Rim a leader in environmentalism,” she said before snipping a kelp ribbon to officially open the new office space.

The environmental non-profit is sharing the space with the Raincoast Education Society and Strawberry Isle Marine Research Society. Past-chair and Surfrider Canada liaison Michelle Hall said the Ecolodge will be an environmental hub for the region.

“We have our own separate office, but we all want to share our resources and knowledge,” she said. “I definitely see it as a doors always open space where people can drop-in and give ideas. We have this vision of a drop-in ideas box if we’re not around, so people can leave ideas.”

Hall made a point of thanking the owner of the Tofino Botanical Gardens and Ecolodge, George Patterson.

“He has faith in us. I think he’s really excited too that this site has become a hub for environmental organizations. I think that he’s really supportive of that.”

READ: A garden of earthly delights in Tofino (Westerly News, Jul. 26, 2018)

READ: Torpedo Kids surf camp launches in Ucluelet (Westerly News, May 30, 2017)

READ: Kids surf club gets big boost in Tofino (Westerly News, Aug. 1, 2016)

Avid surfer and Tofino resort owner Jason Gordon and wife Jeanne Gordon stopped by the open house. Last year on International Surf Day, Gordon made a donation to the organization after a brief conversation with a volunteer at North Chesterman Beach.

“I had just come in from a surf,” Gordon recalls. “[Surfrider] had their little tent set-up and I was chatting with a young volunteer and liked it. So, I went to my truck, wrote a cheque, and just quietly gave it to him.”

Hall said the non-profit earmarked Gordon’s contribution for a tangible office space.

“We kept that money in the bank and it’s paid for a year’s rent here,” she said.

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