Cyrus Buffum, the Charleston Waterkeeper, became the first Waterkeeper in Charleston on September 16, 2008. For 10 months Cyrus worked diligently on a proposal to be submitted to the Waterkeeper Alliance in hopes of establishing a Waterkeeper in Charleston.
Cyrus was born and raised on Cape Cod, MA and grew up with an incredible appreciation and passion for the ocean. At age 13 Cyrus and his brother took sailing lessons at Wianno Yacht Club. After two very short weeks learning to tack and jibe on West Bay, Cyrus was hooked. By age 16 he was racing for his high school sailing team and the Wianno Yacht Club Race Team.
When it came time for college, Cyrus’s choice of schools was influenced by two things (it having a sailing team and great academics of course!). In 2002, Cyrus came to Charleston to attend the College of Charleston. Throughout his time at the College of Charleston, Cyrus became involved with the Student Government Association (becoming the Chief of Staff and a Senior Senator), and was a founding father of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
Unfortunately, demanding labs and a snowboarding accident prevented Cyrus from racing on the sailing team; however, he supplemented this by teaching sailing at Hobcaw Yacht Club on the Wando River in the summers and racing during Charleston Ocean Racing Association’s (CORA) Wednesday night races.
While at school, Cyrus studied physics and math with a focus on coastal processes. His senior thesis, “An In-depth Look at Beach Morphology through the Analysis of Particle Motion beneath Ocean Waves,” exposed him to the connected worlds of science and our waterways.
After graduating, Cyrus spent two months traveling throughout Zimbabwe with an educational-based non-profit, Elias Fund. After returning to the states, Cyrus immediately began teaching sailing once again while he figured out the “next big step.”
With a background in the sciences, a love for the waterways and a passion for social activism and people, Cyrus began searching for graduate schools that satisfied that trifecta. In his pursuit he came across a book called, The Riverkeepers by John Cronen and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. The book details Cronen and Kennedy’s experiences with Riverkeeper, an environmental watchdog organization on the Hudson River.
After learning about the history of the Waterkeeper movement, Cyrus began work on a proposal to establish a Waterkeeper program in Charleston.
Cyrus Buffum, Charleston Waterkeeper