Juan Martinez Appointed to Sierra Club Foundation's Board of Directors
On December 19, the Sierra Club Foundation announced that Juan Martinez, above, has become the newest member of its Board of Directors. At 27, the native of South-Central Los Angeles becomes the youngest member of the Foundation's board.
"It's an honor to be part of an organization where I've gone from being a participant to now sitting on the board," Martinez says. "The Sierra Club deals with environmental issues, but ultimately these are human issues. The environment affects people's lives, and we can improve people's lives for the better. I hope to represent the heartbeat of the environmental movement on the Foundation's board."
Martinez first became involved with the Sierra Club as a participant in Building Bridges to the Outdoors while in high school in South Central L.A. He worked his way up to the position of youth volunteer coordinator, and went on to join the Sierra Student Coalition's executive committee and helped construct the organization's policy.
"The Sierra Club is a big part of my personal story and a significant part of my life," Martinez says. "So many of my friends and mentors are part of the Club. I feel I can point to almost anyplace in the country and find people who are part of this tribe and the fight to improve the way of life for ourselves and future generations."
That's Martinez at center, below, as part of the Sierra Club contingent at the 2009 Breaking the Color Barrier in the Great Outdoors conference.
"Juan's addition to the Foundation board adds a new young voice to advocate for the importance of exploring and enjoying our planet in order to protect it," says Martin LeBlanc, director of the Club's Mission Outdoors program and former director of Building Bridges to the Outdoors. "Juan has risen from a youth who had his life turned around through an outdoor experience to one of the premier youth organizers in the country."
Martinez says nature is a facilitator to leadership and waking people up to a higher level of consciousness. "I discovered that by spending time in nature and the mountains, and I think everyone should have access to those kinds of opportunities for change."
This June, Martinez became the first college graduate in his family when he earned a degree in History from UCLA. Also honored this year as 2011 National Geographic Emerging Explorer, Martinez is dedicated to introducing low-income families to the outdoors and fighting urban pollution.
"To students on campus fighting against coal, military families healing in nature, and children from South Central L.A. or Puerto Rico experiencing their first hike, I want to say that the Sierra Club is a true community that provides a hands-on, active experience."
Martinez is a national spokesman for the importance of getting youth into the outdoors, an Ambassador for The North Face, Director of Leadership Development and Natural Leaders Network for the Children & Nature Network, a recipient of Congresswoman Hilda Solis' Environmental Youth Leadership Award, and a recipient of the Breaking the Color Barrier's "Looking to the Future" Award.
"We're overjoyed to have Juan join the Foundation Board," says Sierra Club Foundation Executive Director Peter Martin. "His perspective, experience and passion show a tremendous commitment to environmental activism and youth education. We're really excited about Juan's leadership on our Mission Outdoors Program and reaching out to younger and more diverse audiences."
The Sierra Club Foundation is a public charity whose mission is to provide financial support to the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations for charitable projects. The Foundation relies on the generosity of thousands of donors across the country who care about preserving and protecting the planet for future generations. The Foundation funds small, local projects and multi-year, multi-million dollar campaigns that help educate, inspire and empower humanity to preserve the natural and human environment. To learn more, visit www.sierraclub.org/foundation.