Chevy Chase Resident Receives National Sierra Club Award
SAN FRANCISCO - Sept. 15, 2001 - A 16-year-old Chevy Chase resident who has been involved with conservation campaigns at the local, state and national levels was among those receiving awards from the national Sierra Club this year.
Nathan Wyeth received the Club's Joseph Barbosa Earth Fund Award, which recognizes people under the age of 30 who demonstrate a commitment to protecting the environment. The award includes a $2,000 cash prize funded by Dr. Joseph Barbosa of Minnesota.
Wyeth's involvement in conservation activities began in eighth grade when he saw a slideshow on the fight to protect southern Utah wilderness. He was inspired enough to get his family to take a trip to Utah. After the trip, he began writing letters to members of Congress urging them to pass "America's Redrock Wilderness Act," which would secure protection for more than 9 million acres of Utah wilderness.
In 9th grade Nathan read about the Montgomery County Student Environmental Activists (MCSEA), which is an affiliate of the Sierra Student Coalition, the student arm of the Sierra Club. He became involved with this group, and attended its Public Lands Action Summit, where he lobbied his Senators and Representative on protection of Arctic and Utah wilderness.
Nathan's activities with Montgomery County Student Environmental Activists led to his work at all levels of the Sierra Club. He helped with his local Sierra Club group's campaign to get a pro-environment candidate elected to the County Council in a special election. He also threw himself into the fight for wild forests, working with MCSEA to get 4,300 postcards signed throughout the spring and summer of 2000 and testifying on behalf of the bill in both Washington, D.C., and Colorado.
After only a year with MCSEA, Wyeth was asked to take over as Executive Director of MCSEA, which is made up of high school students from all over the county. Under his leadership, the group campaigned with the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club to get a new metro line built in Washington, D.C, getting 2,000 signatures on a petition to the governor, every Montgomery County legislator, county councilperson, and members of Congress.
Wyeth organized MCSEA's 5th Annual Lobby Training Day in College Park for high school and college students. Several carloads of students followed up on their training at the Maryland Lobby Day, speaking with delegates and Senators about Maryland issues including water/electricity conservation, forests, Chesapeake Bay and new transit. Under Wyeth's guidance, MCSEA is now planning to work on protecting an area threatened by development locally and to get recycling in all Montgomery County public schools.
In August 2000 Wyeth was appointed to the Sierra Student Coalition's new national-level SAGE (Students Acting on the Global Economy) Committee as the Fair Trade coordinator and by the spring was given responsibility for the entire committee's work. By late spring the committee had built its activist list from 30 to 200 people, 130 of which were entirely new to the group. Wyeth prepared campaign materials and spent hundreds of hours on the telephone helping students plan educational sessions, demonstrations and post card drives on a variety of issues.
Wyeth was recently selected to be the chair of the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club's International Committee.
"With only three staff, 24,000 members, and hundreds of affiliated high school and college activists groups throughout the country, the Sierra Student Coalition depends on national leaders like Nathan to make our operation tick. But Nathan does much more than the average, he is truly as star," said Myke Bybee, executive director of the Sierra Student Coalition.
The money Wyeth receives for the Barbosa Award will be used by the Sierra Student Coalition to further its activities in Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic region.
The Sierra Club, which was founded in 1892 by John Muir, is the country's oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization. It currently has more than 700,000 members. For more information on the Sierra Student Coalition, visit its web site at www.ssc.org.