A Letter I sent to Sierra Magazine. If you agree, write to them in support of this proposal.


Dear Editors,

I am writing to see if you would be interested in doing a story about an award I was recently honored with. I teach 5th grade in San Jose, CA. In my 14 years of teaching I have donated countless 1000’s of hours as a community volunteer gardening with my students well into the evening, during my lunch, on weekends and during the summer. We not only garden with vegetables, but I also landscape with all CA native plants and use this time to make learning fun and engaging while teaching sound ecological principals and the value of growing organic as well as the benefits of landscaping with native plants. In this time I have also spent 100’s of weekends taking kids to the snow in the winter, backpacking in the Sierra Mtns. in the summer, river rafting, sea kayaking and much more. I provide outdoor adventures and experiences to low socioeconomic kids who would otherwise not experience these things. Inner City Outings (ICO) makes it all possible. I have been an ICO volunteer for 12 years.

            To honor my commitment to kids and getting them into the outdoors and connecting them with nature, the Children and Nature Network (C&NN) recently awarded me with their first Natural Teacher Award. As part of this award I was given a free trip to the Galapagos Islands.

            I know the Sierra Club is familiar with the C&NN, co-founded by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. This groundbreaking book brought to light our society’s need to get kids outside more and all the benefits that come with it.

            The Sierra Club does great work. However, more time, energy and money need to be spent directed at getting kids into the outdoors…much more! Sending lobbyists to D.C or paying lawyers to sue dirty corporations is great and necessary work. However, it treats the effect and not the cause. The cause as I see it, is the attitudes, consumer habits and voting habits of today’s adults. Most of your campaigns and article are directed at educating adults to specific issues. Once again this is necessary and valuable work. However, when you take a child into nature they form a lasting relationship that creates lifelong advocates for wild, unspoiled places, thus covering most of the campaigns you bring to light and we sway lifelong voting habits.

We need a paradigm shift of tomorrow’s voters and consumers. The best way to do that is through ICO. Obviously what you do for ICO is not enough since in the 30-plus ICO has been taking kids on adventures we are still suing dirty corporations. We need a 10-fold investment in this endeavor (ICO) and a National Campaign that better supports the missions of ICO, C&NN and other groups like it. Front Page stories every month on the benefits of getting children outside (particularly kids like my students, minorities, the fastest growing segment of our population) should be seen in your magazine.

            Changing the attitude of one child on how she views nature is an investment that can carry 1000 times more power than paying an environmental lawyer’s salary, especially if this child grows up to be a CEO or a politician.  The laws of statistics tells us that the more children we reach, the better chance there is that this will be a reality.

            We are going to fight for every last piece of clean, unspoiled wilderness until there is nothing less to fight for, unless this happens now. And I know it will happen in my lifetime if you do not move in this direction soon.


Attached is the press release from C&NN along with some of the nomination letters. I have more information is you need it for a story.


Long time member,


Larry Volpe


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