John Muir Education

John Muir remains the foremost inspirational example for everyone who loves the Earth!

The mission of the John Muir Education Team is to:

  • recognize the importance of John Muir, whose words and deeds continue to inspire us to appreciate and protect our natural heritage;
  • encourage appropriate activities and events commemorating his life and legacy; and
  • inspire all people through his example to experience nature first-hand and to become involved in protecting wilderness, biological diversity, and sustainable habitats,

The John Muir Education Team assists people: to learn about John Muir through its educational publications, website, and curricula; to commemorate Muir's life through John Muir Day celebrated annually on April 21; and by conducting appropriate activities to encourage people explore, enjoy, study and protect wild landscapes and wildlife in the tradition of John Muir.

Our Projects

Our team's work is critical to fulfilling the Sierra Club founding principles and its core mission: John Muir's belief that there should never be complacency about wilderness preservation and protection, and ultimately about living in harmony with the Earth. Muir helped found the Sierra Club to ensure that there would be an ongoing, persistent education enterprise to keep the public informed, active, aroused, and effective. To this end, we believe we must talk about more than mere "issues" which come and go, but to also educate the public about the philosophies behind the whole idea of environmental protection, as so well exemplified in Muir's inspirational life; his perception of the ultimate importance of nature and learning to live in harmony with it - an inspiration founded equally on scientific understanding and poetic sensibility. With Muir, we're talking about ultimate meanings, especially about the place of humankind within the environment - we are part of the "third wave" of environmentalism.

To learn about John Muir is to understand how one person who cares about the environment can make a difference for public values and policy, and local, state, and national legislation. He is an inspirational figure and a role-model for youth and adults. His life commitments and energies reveal his revelation that it is not enough to enjoy wilderness and nature if one wants it to be preserved; one must actively express one's appreciation and concern about it. For him, enjoyment of nature is inextricable from the responsibility to let public leaders (who make and enforce the laws) know that this is important. One component of promoting knowledge of John Muir is expanding the upcoming generation's knowledge of public policy - we cannot deal effectively with our current pressing issues if we do not understand something about conservation and environmental history - e.g. the formation of the national parks and wilderness preservation systems, and other efforts ranging from protecting endangered species to protecting the global climate from greenhouse gas emissions.

One can see the scope of these efforts in John Muir's Unfinished Business.

The John Muir Education Team works nationally, and even internationally as we network with Muir experts and fans in Canada, Scotland, and elsewhere. Special focuses are in California, Wisconsin, Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and potentially Arizona, Florida, and other states Muir wrote about.

We can effectively overlap with the Club's Wildlands campaign, Forest Protection Team, National Parks & Monuments Team, and the Environmental Education Network, and even on issues like global warming using Muir's studies of glacial retreat. We work with the LeConte Memorial Lodge Team as well to spread Muir's message. We are also an advocate for restoring Hetch hetchy which may be a long term goal, but is necessary to keep alive, as the Sierra Club Board of Directors have stated repeatedly over the decades since we lost that Valley.

Our efforts are intended to make sure that Club activists, members, and the public have access to the best possible information and consulting on John Muir.

To accomplish that goal, our projects include the following projects:

  • Update, enhance, and promote the John Muir Exhibit Website as en educational resource
  • Maintain the John Muir Education Listserv- an e-mail discussion list for John Muir fans, educators, and researchers. Anyone, whether or not a Sierra Club member, may join this mailing list to learn and share about John Muir, and programs of the John Muir Education Committee.
  • Update, enhance, and promote our John Muir Education Lesson Plans- curricula and resources for teachers; the John Muir Day Study Guide, K-12 curriculum in science, social studies, etc., which are integrated with the California Academic Content Standards;
  • Commemorate Muir's life through John Muir Day celebrated annually on April 21
  • Individual members of the John Muir Education Team engage globally in public speaking, writing, radio, website development, and networking about John Muir.


How You Can Help

If you would like to help our efforts to promote John Muir and his legacy, consider some of the following volunteer opportunities:

  • Join this Team!
  • Join the John Muir Education Listserv - an e-mail discussion list for John Muir fans, educators, and researchers. Anyone, whether or not a Sierra Club member, may join this mailing list to learn and share about John Muir, and programs of the John Muir Education Committee. To subscribe, send an e-mail message to [copy and paste into your e-mail]: LISTSERV@LISTS.SIERRACLUB.ORG with a one-line command in the message body saying [Substitute your first and last name where indicated]:


  • Participate in our John Muir Fans Facebook Group.
  • Join the campaigns to complete John Muir's Unfinished Business - Restoring Hetch Hetchy, saving the Giant Sequoias, and protecting Yosemite and other wild places.
  • Volunteer at the Sierra Club's LeConte Memorial Lodge in Yosemite Valley.
  • Participate in or start a Poster or Essay contest, or a History Day Project.
  • If you are a teacher, send us your standards-based lesson plans for inclusion in our collection of updated and expanded John Muir Lesson Plans.
  • Volunteer to do research, typing, and/or scanning of Muir historical documents and photographs
  • Make a display, or host an existing one, at your local library or museum about John Muir . 
  • Show a John Muir video at your school, library, museum, or club meeting
  • Compile the content for a new web page on some aspect of Muir's life. For example:
  • Write a book review of one of Muir's books or one of the books about him.
  • Take one of the countries Muir visited, such as Australia, Brazil, Chile, India, or New Zealand, and identify his itinerary, features seen including Muir's description, images with links to source websites, a description of those places today, and bibliography for further information.
  • Contribute your own story about how John Muir influenced you

* Contact the Sierra Club John Muir Education Team for more ideas! 

Tasks/opportunities for experienced volunteers:

· Contributing articles, speeches, or reference material to the John Muir Exhibit website.

* Launch local John Muir Day celebrations in your home-town, with library displays, tree plantings, etc.

Tasks/opportunities for leaders:
· Encourage more links with non-traditional members of the public to become inspired by John Muir - e.g. stamp and coin collecting hobbyists, persons interested in Scottish culture, and musicians singing on environmental themes.