by Jenny Coyle
We are moms, grandfathers, farmers and students. And we're belly-dancers, mountain
climbers, ministers and chefs. To help put a face on the Sierra Club, The Planet is
launching a new feature, "Who We Are," and profiling three Club members each
Jerry McCulloch - Rexburg, Idaho
Volunteer, Northern Rockies Chapter
Who better than a veteran Fuller Brush salesman to sell Sierra Club calendars? Jerry
McCulloch has been a salesman since he was a farm kid peddling eggs in downtown Rexburg,
Idaho, population 2,000. Since then he's sold high school yearbook ads, newspaper
subscriptions, birdseed and - by going door-to-door for 15 years - Fuller Brush products.
Maybe that's why McCulloch manages to sell more than 400 Sierra Club calendars for the
Northern Rockies Chapter every year. First he hits up his list of last year's clients.
Then he sells calendars at office buildings, in coffee shops and restaurants, and
door-to-door in Boise neighborhoods. This guy knows the territory. He also loves
birdwatching and is passionate about protecting the environment. "I'm totally
committed to the product," says McCulloch. "I've got the calendars with me all
the time - in bed, out of bed. I always carry samples so my customers get immediate
delivery, if not sooner." And what's in it for him? "I'm competitive," he
says. "I like standing out. I like being at the top."
Carl Zichella - Madison, Wisc.
Midwest Field Director
It was a long, winding and just plain weird road that Carl Zichella walked down before
finding his niche at the Sierra Club. This descendent of Italian immigrants "all the
way back to the boat" is a New York City native whose grandfather and uncle were city
cops. His stepdad was a firefighter for the city. Family visits to a cabin in the
Catskills turned him on to the natural world, but he didn't dedicate his life to the cause
right away. First he worked as a carpenter on skyscrapers, built tennis courts, collected
garbage, ran a boarding house and directed energy and housing programs for low-income
residents. Zichella discovered the Sierra Club while fighting a nuclear-power plant on the
north coast of California. He later applied for the first Club position that became
available - associate Midwest representative. A practicing Buddhist, he offers this
perspective on environmental work: "It's healthier to be motivated to protect a place
out of love for the place and people, instead of feeling overcome by rage and anger and
like you want to 'stop the greedy bastards.' One is poisonous and unhealthy; the other is
positive and energizing." As you can imagine, Zichella adds, "being an Italian
Buddhist is heavy lifting."
Melissa Gardner - Omaha, Neb.
Chair, Missouri River Group
Melissa Gardner has two children and lives in Omaha, Neb., downwind from one of the
biggest lead refineries in the country. You could say that's what got her involved in the
Sierra Club. The Wisconsin native moved to Omaha in 1974 to attend Creighton University,
where she earned a degree in business administration and later attended law school. Next,
she ran a 15-person office for a subsidiary of the U.S. West phone company. Two weeks
before her first child was born, she quit her 70-hours-per-week job. I said to myself,
"Now I'm going to do something I believe in, and I joined the Sierra Club,"
Gardner says. "I would read the newspaper and think, 'We've got to stop our habits of
consumption and destruction.'" Then her 4-year-old son tested positive for lead
poisoning. "It was a false positive, but that'll open your eyes," she says. And
that's when she dove head first into the Missouri River Group's battle to clean up the
ASARCO lead refinery, which closed its doors in 1997. Her sons, now 6 and 8, have
memorized the chant: ASARCO! Get the lead out! Against the objections of the group, the
city of Omaha bought the site and will make it a park. Will Gardner let her kids play
there? "Oh God no," she says.
Know someone whose story is deserving? Contact us at The Planet, 85 Second St., Second
Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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