From Texas shrimp boat captain to anti-microplastic activist, author, and environmentalist Diane Wilson fought a mega-corporation and won multiple awards for her work saving Gulf of Mexico waters. She will deliver her lectures “One Woman’s Fight to Save Our Waters from Microplastic Pollution” as part of the 2024 lecture series at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island Thursday, March 7, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.


“Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) co-hosts the lectures with financial support from sponsors Dr. Louise Merrimon Perry Conservation Fund for Girls and Friend of “Ding” Darling. Note: Opinions expressed in guest lectures do not necessarily reflect the views of refuge and DDWS management, staff, and board of directors.


When Wilson learned in 1989 that the waters she fished as a fourth-generation Texas shrimper led the nation for toxic waste, she set off a series of actions against a multibillion-dollar corporation that had been covering up spills, silencing workers, flouting the EPA, and dumping lethal ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride into the bays along the Texas Gulf Coast.


In an epic tale of bravery, Wilson took her fight to the courts, to the gates of the chemical plant, and to the halls of power in Austin. Along the way she met scorn, bribery, character assassination, and death threats as she resorted to nonviolent disobedience, direct action, and hunger strikes.


Wilson wrote about her struggles in her now out-of-print book An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters, and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas, and was the topic of a documentary Texas Gold. She is recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize for North America and the Louis Gibb Environmental Lifetime Award.


Wilson’s lecture is part of a six-lecture series, now underway in its 19th year at “Ding” Darling. Seating for the free lectures is limited on a first-come basis. Early arrivals can check in after 9 a.m. or 12 p.m. to obtain an entrance wristband and then can explore the Visitor & Education Center or Wildlife Drive and trails before the lecture starts. Saved seats must be filled 15 minutes before lecture time or risk being reassigned.


Below is the calendar of upcoming scheduled lectures. For more information about the lecture series, visit


March 7: Author/environmentalist Diane Wilson, “One Woman’s Fight to Save Our Waters from Microplastic Pollution” (Co-sponsors LMP Conservation Fund for Girls and Friend of “Ding” Darling)

March 14: Author/Sanibel islander Charles Sobczak, “Surviving the Storms – Hurricanes, Humans, and Wildlife” with book-signing to follow (Co-sponsors Cliff & Susan Beittel and Friend of “Ding” Darling)

March 21: Recycling expert Stephanie Kissinger, “Talking Trash: Post-Hurricane Clean-Up and Recycling” (Sponsor Friend of “Ding” Darling)



As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, DDWS works to support J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s mission of conservation, wildlife and habitat protection, research, and public education through charitable donations and Refuge Nature Shop profits. To support DDWS and the refuge with a tax-deductible gift, visit or Ann-Marie Wildman at 239-789-8991 or [email protected].