By: Michelle Horine
Nicknamed the "Padre of Padre Island", local fishing guide, birder, & conservationist Billy Sandifer received a shocking phone call from Field & Stream Magazine recently. The magazine's editor and chief informed Sandifer that he had been nominated for their "Heroes of Conservation Award". Sandifer was selected for the August Edition "Heroes of Conservation" which pays $1,000 and a an all expense paid trip to Washington D.C. in October for the semi-finals. If selected for the overall award, Sandifer has a chance at winning $4,000 and a brand new Toyota Tundra. "I don't feel as if I've done anything to justify all of this, says Sandifer. It has been the back breaking work of volunteers that has caused all of this to transpire."
For years, the humbled Captain has been recognized locally for his work as the recipient of a Conservation & Environmental Stewardship Award given by the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation as well as the organizer of the "The Big Shell Beach Clean Up" for the past 14 years. This year's clean-up was featured on the Texas Country Reporter with Bob Phillips where more than 500 volunteers cleaned up 800,000 pounds of debris from the Padre Island National Seashore.
Without fail, Sandifer hand writes his daily fishing and birding reports with intent detail. At the end of each quarter he types up those reports and turns them into the Padre Island National Seashore and the Texas Bird Records Committee for research and conservation purposes. He does this, not because he has to, but because he wants to. This type of documentation is a tremendous resource in evaluating and protecting each and every species that can and has been spotted in the area.
"You are a Texas Icon and a Texas Treasure" replied, Dr. Ray Emerson, friend and supporter of Sandifer after hearing of the news.