Sierra College celebrates Earth Day

Local vendors, musicians and speakers to advocate eco-friendly living
By: Andrew Westrope, Staff Writer
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ROCKLIN – Earth Day, an annual event for worldwide environmental activism, is worthy of more than 24 hours in the eyes of Sierra College.

The global tradition of Earth Day began in 1970, and Sierra College has honored it every year from the first. For its 2013 “celebration” this week, the college is following Earth Day, Monday, with four days of informative presentations, musical performances, nature walks and other on-campus activities, culminating in a pair of events about legendary conservationist John Muir on Friday.

Biology professor Shawna Martinez said this year’s theme is biodiversity, chosen to draw attention to the college’s 95-acre nature preserve and its guided nature walks at 2 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, led by retired biology professor Jim Wilson.

“We’re featuring our Secret Ravine nature preserve, which is behind the campus,” she said. “Typically the students choose the theme, and we wanted to highlight our nature preserve, because a lot of people don’t even know it’s there … and there are all kinds of species down there that people don’t know about. And in Placer County, of course, it’s becoming rarer and rarer to have such a large, open space in that kind of area.”

Event organizers at the college unveiled a banner on Tuesday and held an on-campus screening of “No Impact Man,” a documentary about a family that tries to make no net impact on its environment for a year.

In addition to the nature walk, the college’s lineup for Wednesday includes musical performers in the amphitheater and a screening of a 2009 documentary on overfishing called “End of the Line.” A climbing wall will also be open to students for free at the apex of the main sidewalk on Thursday.

On both days, dozens of organizations will set up on the north end of campus to offer information on wildlife rehabilitation, home gardening, water and energy conservation, transportation solutions, environmentally friendly products and other “Earth Day”-themed topics.

English professor Josh Breese said the week’s activities are intended largely for students but will also be open to the inquiring public.

“It’s a celebration of Earth Day and environmentally-friendly practices,” he said. “We have vendors come in from the community that advertise and talk about and showcase their eco-friendly transportation, their foods, their technologies.”

To conclude the week, the college will feature a double bill on Friday about John Muir, the renowned naturalist whose writings about natural park preservation helped popularize the conservation movement at the turn of the century. “Growing Up Muir,” scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday in Sewell Hall, is new to the college this year and a first for its presenter, Muir’s great-great-grandson, Robert Hanna. Through family anecdotes and rare historical artifacts, Hanna will reveal a lesser-known side of his famous ancestor for the first time.

“A lot of people learn of him in a complete opposite way, where they learn of his accomplishments in conservation and national parks, things like that, but I was raised understanding him and learning and hearing stories of him from a family perspective,” Hanna said. “It’s just taking people on a unique, inside look at a lot of stories that have never been told, a lot of photos that have never been seen, and just kind of a different side of Muir.”

Following the Hanna presentation, John Muir impersonator Lee Stetson will make his 21st annual appearance at the Dietrich Theatre at 7:30 p.m. to perform “John Muir Among the Animals,” a one-man play recounting some of Muir’s more famous travel stories.

For more information, visit the college website at