People Whom Sierra Club National Awards Are Named After

The Ansel Adams Award, which is given for both still photography and film, is named after famed nature photographer Ansel Adams (1902-1984). Adams served as both a photographer for the Sierra Club and as a member of its board of directors. Read more here.

The Edgar Wayburn Environmental Champion Award, which honors outstanding service to the environmental cause by a person in government, is named after Dr. Edgar Wayburn (1906-2010), a practicing physician and conservationist who served five terms as president of the Sierra Club. Dr. Wayburn was instrumental in saving lands in California and Alaska. Read more about him here.

The Chico Mendes Courage Award, which recognizes individuals or nongovernmental organizations outside the United States that have exhibited extraordinary courage and leadership in the universal struggle to protect the environment, is named after Brazilian rubber tapper Chico Mendes. Mendes was assassinated on December 22, 1988, after years of fighting to protect forests and farmers’ livelihoods from powerful business and economic interests.

The Rachel Carson Award, which honors excellence in environmental writing or journalism, is named after Rachel Carson, a federal scientist who was also an internationally renowned nature writer. Carson is most famous for her research, journalism and public advocacy about the dangers posed by the misuse of toxic pesticides, which she detailed in her book Silent Spring. Carson was a close friend of the Sierra Club and her estate bestowed royalties from Silent Spring to support the Club's environmental advocacy work.

The Raymond J. Sherwin International Volunteer Award, which honors extraordinary volunteer service toward international conservation, is named after Raymond J. Sherwin, who served as president of the Sierra Club from 1971-1973.

The Madelyn Pyeatt Outdoors for All Award, which honors Sierra Club members who have made outstanding contributions through working with youth, is named after a longtime resident of Oakland, California, who was one of the earliest proponents of the concept of “inner city outings.” In the 1970s, Pyeatt formed the Sierra Club’s longest-running Inner City Outings group to provide outdoor opportunities to inner-city high school children who wouldn’t otherwise experience them. Pyeatt was the first recipient of the award that bears her name.

The Oliver Kehrlein Outings Leadership Award, which honors service to the Sierra Club Outings Program, is named after Oliver Kehrlein (1882-1967), an avid mountaineer and trip leader. Kehrlein also served as a member of the Sierra Club board of directors from 1938-1958.

The Robert Bullard Environmental Justice Award, which honors individuals or groups that have done outstanding work in the area of environmental justice, is named after Dr. Robert Bullard, a sociology professor who is widely regarded as the “father of environmental justice.” Dr. Bullard received the Sierra Club’s John Muir Award in 2013.

The William E. Colby Award, which is given for outstanding leadership, dedication, and service to the Sierra Club, is named for William E. Colby (1875-1964), an attorney who served the Sierra Club for more than 60 years. Colby was the third president of the Club (after John Muir and Joseph N. LeConte) and served as its secretary for most of the period between 1900 and 1946. In 1901, Colby initiated the annual High Trips that began the Club’s popular outings program and led the trips until 1929. He also contributed substantially to the saving of redwoods, to enlarging Sequoia National Park, and to establishing Kings Canyon and Olympic national parks. Colby received the first John Muir Award in 1961. The Sierra Club's William E. Colby Memorial Library also is named in his honor. Read more about William E. Colby here.

The William O. Douglas Award, which recognizes those who have made outstanding use of the legal/judicial process to achieve environmental goals, is named after William O. Douglas (1898-1980), who served as an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court from 1939-1975. Douglas served on the Sierra Club board of directors from 1961-1962.