Sierra Club 2004 National Awards

Wilderness activists, photographers, webmasters, and hybrid-vehicle drivers were honored at the Sierra Club's annual Honors and Awards Banquet in September.

The Sierra Club's highest honor, the John Muir Award, honoring a distinguished record of achievement, went this year to longtime wilderness activist Vicky Hoover of San Francisco. When Hoover began leading national outings for the Club, Richard Nixon was duking it out with Hubert Humphrey for the presidency and the Wilderness Act was a mere four years old. Thirty-six years later, Hoover is still leading national outings and championing the wild places she holds dear.

"I don't deserve a lot of credit for wilderness activism because I've done it selfishly, for fun," she says with characteristic modesty. "It doesn't feel like work going to wild, beautiful places, advocating for them, and taking other people there." Hoover's many decades of conservation activism, however, stand as indubitable proof of her vigor, her vision, and her commitment to the cause.

The 2004 awards ceremony was held on September 11 in San Francisco, and featured author and nationally syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington as guest speaker.

Ken and Gabrielle Adelman of Corralitos, California, received the Ansel Adams Award for conservation photography. The Adelmans were honored for their work on the California Coastal Records Project, a massive effort to photograph the entire 1,100-mile California coastline from the air. Their photographs, which now number more than 12,000, have been used by numerous organizations in their efforts to protect the California coastline. They are available free of charge at The couple was featured in Sierra magazine's "One Small Step" column in the July/August 2003 issue.

Peter Douglas, executive director of the California Coastal Commission since 1984, received the Distinguished Service Award, which honors persons in public service for strong and consistent commitment to conservation. "Peter has improved protection of our coast from pollution, strengthened enforcement under the California Coastal Act, and enhanced public education and outreach about the importance of our marine resources," said U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer.

Also receiving the Distinguished Service Award was California State Senator Byron Sher, one of the nation's preeminent state legislators on environmental issues. Laws he has authored during his 24 years in the California state legislature have served as models for similar legislation around the nation. "Over the years Senator Sher has shown consistent leadership on environmental issues, writing legislation to protect California's air, water, forests and wilderness areas," said Sierra Club President Larry Fahn. "He has been an inspiration to like-minded state legislators around the country, and he will be deeply missed." Sher is retiring in November due to term limits. He lives in Palo Alto and is a former Stanford University law professor. He started his career in the California State Assembly in 1980 and was elected to serve in the State Senate in 1996.

The Joseph Barbosa Earth Fund Award, which recognizes a Sierra Cllub member under the age of 30, went to 18-year-old Paul Dana of San Diego. Dana organized more than 20,000 students around the country to participate in Earth Day events this year. He is starting his freshman year at UC Santa Cruz this month and is currently the California coordinator for the Sierra Student Coalition. Dana participated in part of this summer's Heidi the Hybrid Tour, which followed the Republican National Committee's Reggie the Registration Rig around the country.

Also honored were former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Lee Udall of Santa Fe, New Mexico, who received the Edgar Wayburn Award for service to the environment by a person in government; and syndicated columnist Molly Ivins of Austin, Texas, who received the David Brower Award for environmental journalism.

Other Sierra Club awards for 2004 included:

Distinguished Achievement Award (honoring persons in public service): Allan Laird (far left) of Littleton, Colorado; Michael Parker of Maryland. Laird is the Echo Bay mining company official who blew the whistle on the company's practice of working with Al Quaeda-linked terrorists to protect its operation in the Philippines. After failing to get U.S. government officials to listen to him, Laird went to the Sierra Club, and Sierra magazine printed the story. The Department of Justice is investigating the case.

Meanwhile, Michael Parker in 1996, took on the job of Program Manager-Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment, a Department of Defense program established by order of the Congress. (The Sierra Club helped to draft the legislation.) In this role, he has overseen the development and demonstration of three complex treatment systems for destroying the nation’s chemical weapons stockpile, proving conclusively that there are viable and economically attractive alternatives to incineration for dealing with hazardous wastes of all kinds.

EarthCare Award (honoring a contribution to international environmental protection and conservation): James Barnes of France. Barnes founded the Antarctica and Southern Ocean Coalition in 1978 and founded the Antarctic Project in 1982. He has been involved with Friends of the Earth in France as well as Friends of the Earth International and Friends of the Earth U.S.

Electronic Communication Award: Angeles Chapter (for Ann Zumwinkle -- lead webmaster and web designer for the chapter -- accepted the award on behalf of the chapter.

Environmental Alliance Award (for forging partnerships with non-Sierra Club entities): Ross Vincent of Pueblo, Colorado. Vincent is a chemical engineer who formed a coalition of environmentalists, labor unions, community groups and the Catholic diocese to address the problem of chemical weapons disposal. Lobbying by this coalition convinced the Army to use a method other than incineration to dispose of 2,600 tons of mustard gas being stored at the Pueblo Depot. This coalition became known as Better Pueblo, and it continues to work on issues like air pollution from a nearby steel mill and a proposed limestone strip mine.

Ida and Denny Wilcher Award (for outstanding fundraising efforts or membership development): The Cumberland Chapter (Kentucky). Lane Boldman accepted the chapter's award.


Madelyn Pyeatt Award (honoring Club members working with youth): Mark Walters of Coral Gables, Florida. In addition to having a full-time job as a medical researcher, a family, and studying for his MBA, Walters has been a leader in the Miami Inner City Outings program for more than 10 years, and has led at least 120 outings. He also co-founded the Miami ICO Youth Leaders Program, which identifies children who are potential leaders and gives them one-on-one training to become leaders with ICO and in their communities.

Newsletter Award: The Indiana Sierran (published by the Indiana Chapter); and The Bugle (published by the Rocky Mountain Chapter's Indian Peaks Group). Bugle newsletter editor Rebecca Dickson, right, accepted the award for her group, and Paula Richards

Oliver Kehrlein Award (for outstanding service to the Outings program): Brad and Katy Cristie of Richmond, California.

One Club Award (for using outings to instill an interest in conservation and protecting public lands): David Simon of Los Altos, California. Simon served as chair of the Outdoor Activities Governance Committee for more than four years, and during this time, the Club’s outdoor activities program made substantial progress in its goal of becoming an integrated and vital partner in the club’s conservation campaigns at all levels.

Raymond Sherwin International Award(for international conservation): Judy Olmer of Cabin John, Maryland. Olmer represents the Sierra Club as an NGO observer to the International Whaling Commission. In 1998, she became moderator of the Club’s Marine Mammal Forum, a listserv designed to provide information on marine mammal issues. As a member of the Marine Committee and the International Committee, she has worked tirelessly on issues involving whales, seals, dolphins and other marine mammals. The most critical issue she has been involved with is the effort to stop or slow the U.S. Navy’s deployment of very high intensity sonar, which has the real potential to kill such mammals.

Special Achievement Award (recognizing a single act of importance dedicated to conservation): Keith Schue, a sprawl activisit in Mount Plymouth, Florida. In 2003, the Florida Wildlife Federation named Schue its "Water Conservationist of the Year."

Special Service Awards (for commitment to conservation over an extended period of time): Sam Booher (right) of Augusta, Georgia; Ruth Caplan (left) of Washington, D.C.; Sherm Janke of Bozeman, Montana; and Gwen Nystuen of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Booher was instrumental in convincing DuPont to drop its plans to mine near the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia.

Caplan has served on the Corporate Relations Committee and was the first chair of the Club’s Corporate Accountability Committee. She also has served on the Energy Committee and most recently was involved with developing the Club’s policy on water privatization and developing educational materials to accompany the film “Thirst.”

Susan E. Miller Award (for outstanding service to Sierra Club chapters): Charles Oriez (left) of Littleton, Colorado; Mark Collier (right) of Boulder, Colorado. Oriez is a Rocky Mountain Chapter member who has been involved with information technology initiatives. He was one of the first Club members to develop a chapter website and served for many years as the Rocky Mountain Chapter webmaster. He has been a member of the Club’s IT Committee for 23 years, and was also involved in the development of the Grassroots E-mail System that provides e-mail aliases for chapter volunteers.

Collier has not only served as the Rocky Mountain chapter chair and chapter treasurer, but he has helped chapters throughout the Club through his work as a member of the National IT Committee since 1996. He has helped develop listserv capability for chapters, set up a bulletin board system for chapter use, and set up Sierra Club e-mail aliases for chapters that wanted them. He also has helped a number of chapters set up systems for accepting credit card transactions. Collier currently is serving on a task force that is trying to ease the burden of financial reporting on volunteer treasurers and chapter staff.

William Colby Award (the Club's highest honor for administrative work): Greg Casini of Denver, Colorado. Casini has served as chair of the club’s Organizational Effectiveness Committee since 2001. During this period, he has implemented a variety of programs to address the recurrent problems of groups and chapters. He has worked tirelessly to help groups and chapters address such issues as strategic planning, leadership training and conflict resolution. In addition to serving as chair of the Organizational Effectiveness Committee, Casini has continued to serve as chair of the Rocky Mountain Chapter and has served as co-chair of an effort to plan a 2005 national convention for the club. Greg was recently appointed to fill a vacancy on the Board of Directors.

William O. Douglas Award (for contributions in the field of environmental law): Roger Beers of Oakland, California. Beers began his career with the Natural Resources Defense Council and then worked for the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund (now EarthJustice). He has been a member of the Club’s litigation committee for more than 10 years. He has handled numerous clean air, clean water, land use, forest protection and other suits. He also has been called upon to give general legal advice to the Club and handle major suits for it, as well as other conservation organizations.