I sat down with Kyle Gronostajski, JRF’s Environmental Director, to explore the mission behind their work and how they’re looking to grow their program this year. Through the JRF, Kyle leads efforts in finding and funding oyster restoration efforts up and down the East Coast. They’ve also just launched an exciting new oyster collaboration that gives their customers even more reason to love Jetty and support a great cause (details below!).
This is a strong funding opportunity for coastal projects, so if you are leading an oyster restoration effort or considering starting one, here’s a short interview with Kyle to learn more about the JRF, their process, and how to get in touch!
Kyle, could you share with us your background? How did you find your way to JRF and what’s your role?
My personal background has always been ocean, water centric. Surfing, fishing, diving. Professionally, I began my career working for non profits and really enjoy education and outreach. After running a small non profit on LBI, NJ for some time I moved over to Jetty Rock Foundation to work with some long time friends who created the Jetty brand. For the past year I have been the Environmental Director at JRF.
What’s the mission behind JRF as a part of Jetty, how did it all begin, and what projects do you support?
The mission of the Jetty Rock Foundation is to protect our oceans and waterways, and support those who build their lives around them. Jetty as a brand has always had a charitable component through their 20-year history, but Hurricane Sandy in 2012 galvanized the need for something more legitimate. With donations coming in post-storm, JRF was created and registered as a 501(c)3. What started as a way to help local folks with rebuilding has grown to include an environmental component. Moving towards oysters and aquaculture really fulfills that. We have worked to support and create some first of their kind shell recycling programs locally. We’re working directly with local farmers to support their efforts and get them involved in restoration. We’ve also partnered to financially support some really cool restoration projects creating reefs using spat on shell.
What are your goals for the rest of 2023 and how do you envision growing the program?
This year, we are excited to grow and expand beyond our local New Jersey area. Our hope is to connect with and collaborate with partners up and down the eastern seaboard mimicking the reach of the Jetty brand. There are so many great efforts happening and we’re just trying to learn about as many as we can and glean information for local projects and beyond. One key way we hope to do this is through our High Water Healing program in collaboration with the Jetty brand. Through the sales of limited edition High Water Healing designs we’re looking to support an oyster/aquaculture centric project in each state from Maine to Florida. Not only do we hope to utilize funds from the sales of the garments and products, but we’re also hoping to bring together like-minded groups to share best practices and learn as we all navigate through similar issues in different areas.
And are the rumors true? Does JRF have their OWN bivalves now?
Yes! JRF is super excited to launch our own signature oyster with the Barnegat Oyster Collective. We have partnered with the farmers and crew at BOC to get delicious oysters directly to consumers while contributing back to our environmental efforts. Every party pack comes in an Ocean Farm Supply biodegradable bag, includes a custom branded Jetty Rock Oyster Knife, and the knowledge that a portion of the proceeds will go back to putting more oysters back into the water. Supporting farmers, supporting restoration, and eating tasty oysters: a perfect combination.
How could an interested organization reach out to JRF for consideration?