Sierra Club

For Immediate Release: September 19, 2008 

Contact:  Ellen Davis - (512) 639-9959 (cell) or Orli Cotel (415) 977-5627


SAN FRANCISCO, CA A NASA scientist who helped raise awareness of global warming, a U.S. senator who has led efforts to protect the Arctic coastal plain from oil and gas drilling, and a British documentary producer whose programs have brought the natural world into the living rooms of millions are among those receiving awards from the Sierra Club this year.

NASA scientist James Hansen will receive the Sierra Club's top award, the John Muir Award. Hansen has directed the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NASA's premier climate research center, since 1981. In 1981, his team of researchers concluded that carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere would lead to global warming sooner than previously predicted. He has been trying to convince elected officials to act on the problem ever since. Hansen gained notoriety when the first Bush administration tried to change testimony about global warming that Hansen was supposed to give to Congress.

Hansen’s prescription for addressing climate change due to global warming to cut carbon dioxide CO2 by 80 percent over the next 40 years has become the cornerstone of the Sierra Club's Climate Recovery Campaign.
“For over 25 years Dr. Hansen has steadfastly pursued the science underlying global warming and its impact on climate change, speaking the truth no matter how inconvenient. He is truly a hero for preserving the environment,” said Sierra Club President Allison Chin.

Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state is receiving the club’s Edgar Wayburn Award. Cantwell has been a champion of the environment since she was elected to the Senate in 2000, defeating incumbent Sen. Slade Gorton one of the Senate’s leading anti-environmentalists in a close election. Cantwell’s leadership has covered the breadth of environmental issues, including holding polluters accountable for clean up of toxic wastes, defending our remaining national forest wildlands, protecting the Arctic from oil and gas drilling, leading the charge for clean renewable energy, and creating new “green” jobs.

British documentary producer Sir David Attenborough is receiving the club’s EarthCare Award, which recognizes individuals who have made a unique contribution to international environmental protection and conservation. Attenborough’s career as a naturalist and broadcaster has spanned nearly five decades and there are very few places on the globe that he has not visited. His landmark series for the BBC include Life on Earth (1979), The Living Planet (1984), The Trials of Life (1990), The Private Life of Plants (1995), The Life of Birds (1998), The Life of Mammals (2002) and Life in the Undergrowth (2005).

Others receiving 2008 Sierra Club awards include the following:

Ansel Adams Award (honors excellence in conservation photography): Steven Kazlowski of Seattle, Wash. Kazlowski has photographed the effects of climate change in the Arctic on animals such as the polar bear. The 2008 book, The Last Polar Bear: Facing the Truth of a Warming World, features 200 of Kazlowski’s hard-won images alongside essays by conservationists, journalists and respected Alaskan authors.

David R. Brower Award (recognizes a professional journalist for stories pertaining to the environment): Beth Daley, who has been the environmental reporter at the Boston Globe since 1994. Daley has covered a range of issues for the Globe, including global warming, “green-washing,” the endangered Northern Right Whales, the Northeast’s vanishing bat population, and the fishing industry in New England. The Boston Globe’s coverage of forestry issues and controversial timber harvests on state lands significantly raised public awareness on the issue. The state is now in the process of reforming its cutting practices on state lands.

Electronic Communication Award: Craig Wolfe of Kansas City, Kansas, and Andreas Marek of Encinitas, Calif. Wolfe developed a Web site to help Sierra Club activists in Kansas fight proposed coal-fired power plants. Marek develop a Web site to help Sierra Club Inner City Outings leaders advertise their trips, download forms, track participants, file expense reports, and much more.

Environmental Alliance Award (recognizes individuals or groups that have forged partnerships with other non-Sierra Club entities): Joan Saxe of Freeport, Maine. Saxe partnered with four other groups to form Maine Partners for Cool Communities, which has helped local residents implement climate action plans in nearly 50 Maine communities.

Denny and Ida Wilcher Award (recognizes excellence in fundraising or membership development): The Sierra Club’s Big Bear Group in Big Bear Lake, Calif. The group organizes a yearly self-guided tour to show local residents how to implement Xeriscape landscaping.

Joseph Barbosa Earth Fund Award (recognizes a club member under the age of 30): Carlos Rymer of Teaneck, N.J., and Erica Stout and Andrew Nazdin of College Park, Md. Rymer helped win passage of the landmark New Jersey Global Warming Response Act, and, since moving to New York to attend college at Cornell University, has co-founded the New York Student Sustainability Coalition, which is working to pass legislation that will reduce New York State’s greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050 (see Stout and Nazdin were successful in getting all 13 institutions in the University of Maryland System to pledge carbon neutrality. Both recipients will receive $250 to continue their work.

Madelyn Pyeatt Award (recognizes work with youth):  Elizabeth Armon Neat of San Pedro, Calif. Neat is a middle school English and history teacher in Los Angeles and leads approximately 40 outings a year as a volunteer with the Sierra Club’s Inner City Outings (ICO) program. Neat will receive $250 to continue her work.

Oliver Kehrlein Award (for outstanding service to the club’s outings program): Lehman Holder of Vancouver, Wash. Holder has led trips for Sierra Club chapters in Texas, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington for 34 years.

Raymond J. Sherwin International Award (honors extraordinary volunteer service toward international conservation): Fred Heutte of Portland, Ore. Huette serves as chair of the Sierra Club’s Global Warming and Energy Committee.

Special Achievement Awards (for a single act of importance dedicated to conservation or the Sierra Club): Becky Gillette of Eurkea Springs, Ark.; Jim Dougherty of Washington, D.C.; and the Puerto Rico Chapter of the Sierra Club. Gillette led efforts to expose the dangers of formaldehyde being outgassed in FEMA trailers. Dougherty’s photos of railroad tank cars carrying huge cargoes of highly toxic chemicals through Washington, D.C., led to legislation prohibiting this practice in urban areas. The Puerto Rico Chapter led a successful campaign to secure permanent protection for the Northeast Ecological Corridor, a delicate coastal ecosystem that was threatened by two major developments (see

Special Service Awards (for strong and consistent commitment to conservation over an extended period of time): Tyla Matteson of Richmond, Va.; David Blouin of Madison, Wisc.; and Ann Harris of Rockland, Tenn. Matteson has been involved with conservation efforts in Virginia for 23 years; Blouin played a key role in stopping a new copper-zinc mine near the headwaters of the Wolf River in northern Wisconsin; and Harris has worked to raise public awareness of the dangers of nuclear power.

Susan E. Miller Award (honors administrative contributions to Sierra Club groups, chapters and regional entities): Connie Wilbert of Laramie, Wyo., and Lane Boldman of Lexington, Ky. Wilbert has held leadership positions on the Sierra Club’s Environmental Partnerships Program Committee, its Conservation Governance Committee and its Finance Governance Committee. Boldman has held a variety of leadership positions in the Cumberland Chapter and served as chair of the Sierra Club’s Council of Club leaders.

William E. Colby Award (the club’s highest honor for administrative work): Cal and Louise (Letty) French of Paso Robles, Calif. Both have held a variety of leadership positions in the club over the past 30 years.

William O. Douglas Award (recognizes those who have made outstanding use of the legal/judicial process to achieve environmental goals): Robert Ukeiley of Berea, Ky. Ukeiley has represented the Sierra Club in numerous Clean Air Act lawsuits.

Most awards will be presented Sept. 20 during the Sierra Club’s Annual Dinner in San Francisco.
For more information on the Sierra Club awards program, visit www.


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