Founder and Host
Kyle Thiermann, born 1990, is a conduit between athletes and intellectuals. He surfs professionally for Patagonia, works as a documentary correspondent, hosts a weekly podcast, and is a freelance writer.
From ages 18-25 Thiermann created and hosted the YouTube series Surfing For Change. While traveling to the best waves around the world, he created gonzo-style mini-documentaries about current environmental issues happening in the regions. From 25-27 he worked as a correspondent for Discovery Digital Networks covering issues ranging from a little-known indigenous conflict in Chile, to the impact wild pigs have on coral reefs in Hawaii.
His first YouTube video in the Surfing For Change series detailed how money kept in multinational banks can be used to finance destructive projects all over the world. This video inspired people to move large amounts of money out of centralized banks and into local banks and credit unions, and reached people throughout North America, South America, Africa, and much of Europe.
Thiermann has covered controversial stories all over the world. These stories have included the Indonesian trash epidemic, GMO protests in Hawaii, working conditions in Sri Lanka, nuclear power in South Africa, and the adverse effects of surf tourism in Nicaragua.
Thiermann speaks at universities throughout the country and in 2011 gave a TEDx Talk in his wetsuit. His surfing and filmmaking successes have earned him the Brower Youth Award, American Clean Skies Award, Blue Vision Youth Award, and Surfrider’s Pro Surfer Environmental Achievement Award.
Thiermann is a columnist for Adventure Sports Network, Inertia, and Santa Cruz Waves. He graduated from Gaia University with a Bachelors of Science in Green Business with a focus in Media.
Co-Producer of Surfing For Change
Claire graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2006 with honors in Politics. She was the Associate Producer of the movie, Thrive, from 2007-2013 and helped to oversee and manage all aspects of the project including website development, licensing, distribution, social media marketing, and communications. Thrive continues to be an Internet sensation with more than 24 million views in its first two years. While living on Kauai last year, Claire had first-hand experience with the growing controversy around GMO experimentation on the Islands, prompting the idea for Surfing For Change’s latest film, Pro Surfers vs. GMOs, which she Co-Produced.
Director of Photography
Toby Thiermann was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California. He graduated with honors from the University of California at San Diego and holds a B.A. in Communications. After graduating Toby began a career as a filmmaker and cinematographer. He has traveled the world telling stories about under reported issues in remote and hard to get to places. Working for Current TV, Toby reported about ruby smuggling on the Burmese/Thai border and ventured into the landmine fields of Cambodia. Toby has since gone on to film numerous national television documentaries and commercials. He has worked in some of the most difficult and obscure terrain on the planet including a 2011 trip to the North Pole. In the arduous conditions of the Arctic Sea he embarked a nuclear submarine 350 feet below the arctic ice shelf filming a documentary for CNN on the geopolitics of the region. Toby continues to broaden his scope as a filmmaker working on major feature films, commercials, and music videos. In 2011 Toby spent six months working on Steven Spielberg’s Oscar winning Production of “Lincoln.” In 2012 he traveled to Morocco to film an 80-minute documentary about the making of Mark Burnett’s “the Bible” which would go on to be the highest rated debut television show of all time.
Graphic Artist & Web Designer
Shane Heath is a designer and artist at heart with the added toolset of a front-end website developer. Over the past 5 years he has worked with various clients including Surfing For Change to deliver branding and web design solutions with high emphasis on usability and brand uniformity across multiple platforms. He has worked with professional athletes, startups, high-profile businesses and non-profits, agencies, and small design studios. His experience as the art director for Walu International resulted in a top 25 best awareness campaign by a non-profit in 2011. Shane also co-founded ishBowl in 2011, a company that specializes in helping businesses increase sales and communications with customers through the creation of customized video playlists.
Web Programmer/IT Support
Matt is a web developer, programmer, network administrator, and surfer residing on the island of Kauai. He has over 16 years of web development experience and is currently the IT manager for the non-profit National Tropical Botanical Garden. Matt also runs W3DD, a web application development company and has completed hundreds of web application projects for many businesses and non-profit organizations. He continues to develop his own e-commerce software, builds and maintains distributed botanical database systems, and has released many wordpress plugins.
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Brower Youth Award
Each year the Brower Youth Award recognizes the work of six young leaders who are making strides in the environmental movement. Brower Youth Award winners demonstrate excellent leadership as well as a commitment to the communities their work serves.
American Clean Skies Foundation Award: $10,000 Prize
ACSF is an independent nonprofit working for cleaner energy in the U.S. transportation and power sectors.
Surfrider: Pro Surfer Environmental Achievement Award
The Surfrider Foundation USA is a grassroots non-profit environmental organization that works to protect and preserve the world’s oceans, waves, and beaches. The Surfrider Foundation largely focuses its work on such issues as water quality, beach access, beach and surf spot preservation, and sustaining marine and coastal ecosystems.