Islander learned respect for coastal conservation at an early age
When you’re raised with all of Galveston as your backyard, chances are you’ll have developed a “leave-no-footprint” mentality early on.
As an adult, Zane Seigel hopes to continue the tradition of ecological sustainability his family and teachers instilled in him while growing up.
“Galveston Island was my backyard,” Seigel said. “Learning to preserve it was part of my childhood.”
Coastal preservation has long been a mainstay of the Galveston Independent School District curriculum, offering coastal studies as early as elementary-grade classrooms. As a member of Ball High School’s Key Club, a student-led organization whose goal is to teach leadership through helping, Seigel was involved in conservation projects such as replanting marshes in and around the Galveston Island State Park and grew up with a respect for recycling, he said.
“My family always recycled,” he said.
Seigel worked last summer renting umbrellas and chairs on the beach to visitors and was discouraged by the amount of trash tourists left behind, he said. He spent hours picking up plastic bottles, bags and used diapers after his shifts ended, he said.
“I was sad to see the tourists leave all that garbage behind,” he said. “There’s a pail every few feet and it only takes a few minutes to clean up your area but many people don’t pick it up.”
Seigel, 19, had been attending Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas, but recently transferred to Texas A&M University at Galveston to be nearer to the coast and his family.
“I wasn’t happy living so far from the Gulf,” he said.
Born on Manhattan Beach in Los Angeles, Seigel moved to Galveston in 2004.
“I’ve lived by the beach my whole life and can’t imagine being too far from it,” he said.
Seigel is a maritime administration major and looks forward to joining university conservation projects this year, he said. Texas A&M University at Galveston sponsors in-depth studies of dune preservation, coastline population development and coastal flooding.
An avid outdoorsman, Seigel enjoys surfing, kayaking, swimming, boating, beach soccer and volleyball, he said.
“Galveston Island is a kid’s dream,” he said. “Where else can you play in a beach soccer tournament? We were always doing something outside.”
His mother, Heidi Seigel, said Zane could be found playing sports outdoors with his friends on most days while growing up.
“If he wasn’t playing football or soccer, he was skateboarding or surfing, she said. And the family dog, Bodhi, was an active participant much of the time. Weather permitting, Seigel and Bodhi can be found paddleboarding around Lafitte’s Cove or running on to the beaches around town, she said. Most of Galveston’s beaches and natural habitats are dog friendly — though leashes are required.
Seigel would like to see a larger island-wide movement established to reach more sustainable tourism and encourages everyone to do their part in the cleanup, he said.
“There’s a garbage pail every 50 feet on the beach, he said. “Walk the few feet and throw out your trash. Every little bit helps. Even if it is a small effort, you have to have the mentality that it will help in the long run.”
Favorite thing about growing up Galveston? Our playground was the beach.
Favorite outdoor activity? Hard to pick just one. I spent a lot of time surfing as a kid. Any sport on the beach.
Advice to beachgoers? Don’t expect others to pick up after you.
Request of tourists? Please treat our island with respect.