Sierra Club Military Outdoors Leader Honored as 2017 Emerging Leader

Veteran Robert Vessels Recognized at SHIFT

Virginia Cramer,, 804-519-8449 

Jackson Hole, WY --  Robert Vessels with Sierra Club’s National Military Outdoors program will join the class of 2017 Emerging Leaders to lead proceedings at The SHIFT Festival, which starts tomorrow in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Emerging Leaders program honors and trains a diverse group of outdoor recreationists to help revitalize conservation by making it relevant to all Americans.

The annual SHIFT Festival aims to help tap the possibilities of outdoor recreation to reinvigorate the protection of our public lands and waters.

“As a veteran who is also a conservationist, my goal is to bridge the gap between both communities. It can be challenging to engage both groups in order to bring them together in the fight to protect public lands, but when they do the history and synergy between the two communities is really powerful,” said Robert Vessels.

Vessels is a conservationist, a climber, and a veteran. He currently leads the Sierra Club’s Military Outdoors program, which connects 14,000 service members, veterans, and their families to the outdoors each year through outings and outdoor leadership training. He recently relocated to Washington, DC, in hopes of fostering a new generation of environmental stewards by providing veterans with the proper tools and knowledge to leverage their unique voice in defense of America’s public lands and opportunities for all to enjoy and explore them. Prior to that, Vessels served five years in the Army as an infantryman with the 10th Mountain Division, during which time he deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon returning home, he moved to California, where he used the state’s many wild landscapes and a close-knit community of fellow veterans to cope with struggles with PTS and adjustment into society.

Vessels joins fellow Sierra Club staffer Mabari Byrd, who was part of the 2016 class of Emerging Leaders. Their work is part of ongoing efforts by the Sierra Club to expand outdoor opportunities and create a welcoming environment for everyone. Learn more.


About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit