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Scrapbook: Wisconsinite Works for Washington Wilderness

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October 26, 2011

Wisconsinite Works for Washington Wilderness

Ben-Greuel
Photo by Sarah Babbington, courtesy of The Wilderness Society

Wisconsin native Ben Greuel, an organizer with the Sierra Club's Resilient Habitats Campaign, was recently featured in Wilderness, the magazine of The Wilderness Society. A photo of Greuel introduced the article, "Building an Army of Young Conservation Leaders."

Greuel is a "graduate" of the mentoring program run by the Wilderness Society's Wilderness Support Center (WSC) in Durango, Colorado. The Center was created in 1999 to train new leaders to protect our public lands and help build a stronger, more interconnected wilderness movement.

Greuel recently undertook a backpacking trip across the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with his dad to advocate for protection of the Arctic coastal plain from oil & gas drilling. That's Ben & his dad, Duane, below.

Ben-and-Duane-Greuel

Ben devotes his prodigious energies and organizing skills to protecting wildlands and watersheds in the Greater Puget Sound Ecoregion, especially on the Olympic Peninsula.

"I do everything from educating our members to reaching out to everyone from economic development councils to local fishing guides to recreation groups to local elected officials to local tribes to timber companies," he told Hannah Nordhaus, who interviewed Greuel for Wilderness.

Nordhaus, author of The Beekeeper's Lament: How One Man and Half a Billion Honey Bees Help Feed America, writes:

Ben Greuel grew up on a farm along the Wisconsin River. The TV reception was terrible, so he spent his time fishing, swimming, hunting, and hiking, and, in summertime, driving around the West and camping out of the back of his family's blue Ford F250.

No surprise, then, that when he finished college, he immediately went into the business of preserving wild places. He is now based in the Pacific Northwest with the Sierra Club, working to protect wildlands and watersheds on the Olympic Peninsula. "I do everything from educating our members to reaching out to everyone from economic development councils to local fishing guides to recreation groups to local elected officials to local Tribes to timber companies, putting a lot of miles on the old truck"—now, a slightly newer 1997 Ford Ranger—"and meeting a lot of interesting folks."

Greater-Puget-Sound-Ecoregi

Greuel, 28, considers his interaction with other wilderness advocates through WSC's mentoring program to have been invaluable. "One of the things I learned is that when you're doing outreach to local communities for wilderness campaigns, it doesn't just flow one way," he says. "You need to build quality long-term relationships with these folks where you take into account their needs and concerns." Those lessons have paid off: the Wild Olympics campaign has built a diverse coalition that has begun to break down barriers to the dream of protecting the Olympic's watersheds.

Learn more about the Sierra Club's Resilient Habitats Campaign.

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