Activist Spotlight
January 20 2016

Jumping Down The Rabbit Hole

by Nancy Eiring

Rob Nixon, Chair of Surfrider South Texas

Member Since 2005

Q: When and why did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?

I got involved with the Surfrider Foundation in 2005 when our largest and most cherished beach park, Isla Blanca Park, South Padre Island, was thrown out to be developed into a marina and casino resort.  Never mind the fact that casino gambling wasn't and still isn't legal in Texas but it was more of a preservation of my childhood. I'd grown up in the trailer park there and that is what I identified as the beach.  I quickly discovered that it was what thousands of others identified this beach as a cherished, memorable special place.  A local surfer, Gene Gore, and his wife decided to start a Surfrider Foundation chapter to help fight to protect this gem of Deep South Texas. I became a founding member and ended up becoming the Volunteer Coordinator.  This was the "jumping down the rabbit hole" moment in my life.  

Q: What issues are you most passionate about in your community?

One of the issues I am most passionate about in my community and for the entire Texas Coast is the preservation of the Texas Open Beaches Act.  It was enshrined in the Texas Constitutional Bill of Rights in 2009 which guarantees the rights of Texans and visitors to access and use the beaches of Texas along the coast. Other issues include the natural preservation of our beach and dune systems without armoring and the elimination of beach trash, particularly plastic pollution, through education along our coasts.

Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience (i.e., campaign, program, victory)?

The highlight, oh ok highlights of my Surfrider experience have been the defeat of the development of Isla Blanca Park, the development and implementation of Cameron County's Trash for Cash Program that encourages beach users to bring back their trash from the beaches through a trash bag deposit program and our years long restoration and enhancement of our City's dunes.  To date we have planted over 400,000 new dune plants with thousands of volunteers and ended up helping the City receive $360,000 in grant money from the state in grant money that has ended up in the creation of over 8 acres of new dunes on South Padre Island.  Finally, I would say the absolute highlight has been the connection that I have been able to achieve with the Surfrider Foundation's unbeleivable activist network and staff.  

Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?

The absolute most important thing that I tell everyone about Surfrider is that we are here to support your concerns about our ocean, waves and beaches.  No matter where you are from and what background you come from, we are all the same.  We care about our coasts and our families' and future generations' right and ability to enjoy them while respecting them!

Q: Where is your favorite beach and why?

This is a tricky question. My absolute favorite beach is Isla Blanca Park on South Padre Island.  I grew up there during the summers in a very small Holiday Rambler trailer with my family.  We played in the dunes there (and I left an entire army of GI Joe's there unfortunately). It is where we learned about the sea life and the joys of being on the beach there. I eventually learned how to surf there and have now had the opportunity to teach hundreds of children the same joys there through International Surfing Day.  I have a less crowded beach that me and my boys enjoy so much together as well.  However, I have other favorites now that I employ the same Surfrider principles to other beaches where I encounter Surfrider members doing the same things I am trying to accomplish here.  I have discovered that Surfrider members are a tribe but a finite tribe that is a microcosm of a much bigger group that loves their beaches and the recreational and educational opportunities they create.  I love that Surfrider is more and more coming to represent all of those people.  It's not a surfing club, Surfrider is a beach lover's organization!