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Doug Hulmes

Presents a John Muir Chataugua

Doug Hulmes as John Muir

What is Chautauqua?  Chautauquans are scholars who portray historical characters.  Doug Hulmes presents a chautauga of John Muir, presenting an environmental perspective of the West. Performing as Muir helps bring to life the ideas that began during the past century in response to the wide scale destruction of public lands by some of the early pioneers.  Doug Hulmes typically presents the character of John Muir in a 35 minute presentation, then takes questions from the audience as the Muir, and closes with questions as a scholar of John Muir.

      John Muir has been referred to a naturalist, explorer, inventor, and philosopher.  A Scottish immigrant, John spent much of his adult life exploring and studying the Sierras and Alaska.   The author of more than two dozen books, John gained respect as the nation's foremost spokesperson for wilderness and the ideas of preservation and reverence for life.  He promoted the designation of Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Petrified Forest National Parks, and was one of the founders and first president of the Sierra Club in 1892.

About Doug Hulmes

Doug Hulmes is a Professor of Environmental Studies at Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona, where he teaches courses in ecology, environmental education, and environmental history and philosophy.  Hulmes has performed John Muir since 1993.

Doug came to perform as John Muir because of a course that he teaches on "Philosophies of the Interpretive Naturalists. He depicted John Muir at an Arizona Environmental Education Conference in the early 1990s, and in 1993 was invited to perform John Muir at "The Second Opening of the West: Ideas of Nature in Arizona" conference funded by an Exemplary Award grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Since 1993, Doug was under contract with the Arizona Humanities Council for seven years and performed throughout the state for a variety of organizations, schools, libraries, state parks, and lecture series.  In addition to Doug's engagements in Arizona, he has given performances in Washington, California, Utah, New Mexico, Minnesota, Norway, and Scotland, and has given benefit performances for the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Durango Nature Center, Gore Range Environmental School in Colorado, and the Jefferson County Land Trust in Port Townsend, Washington. 

Doug was the co-recipient of the 1990 National Wilderness Education Award, sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service and the Izaac Walton League.  In 1994, Doug received the Educator of the Year and President's Appreciation Awards from the Arizona Environmental Education Association..  In 1997 Doug was a Guest Professor at Telemark College where he taught with Norway's first interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Program.

In May of 1998, Doug received an award for outstanding presenter at the National Wilderness Rangers Conference in Durango, Colorado, for his performance of John Muir.  He gave eight performances in 2000 for the California Sesquicentennial at the State Capital in Sacramento. In September 2004, Doug was invited to perform in Washington D. C. for the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Wilderness Act. 

While in Scotland in May, 2001, he visited John Muir's birthplace in Dunbar, and while visiting a local museum discovered that his ancestors likely came from Dunbar as well.  In fact, the Earl of Dunbar of the castle ruins that John Muir played on as a child, was very likely one of his ancestors.  

He  has recently returned from a sabbatical (('06-'07) researching the traditions, mythology and folklore of planting sacred trees on farms in Norway and Sweden.

Comments from Students

"People like you make it possible for kids like us to want to explore and find new things.  As you were telling the story, I wanted to know what was going on, and be in the experience along with John."

"I was amazed by how well you transformed yourself into naturalist John Muir.  Not only was it fascinating to see how well you showed the emotions of the earlier scientist, but your performance also provided me with plenty of interesting information."

"You really made me feel that I had known the man for a very long time.  When you answered questions for the students, you really educated everyone in the room about yourself and John Muir."

"I really thought you made him come alive.  I think that it was terrible the way the the dam was built, and I could really picture myself walking through the valley the way you described it.  Everyone should be able to hear your performance".  

"It was a wonderful act, and my classmates and I really enjoyed watching it.  I especially enjoyed your question and answer session because you never once went out of character, unless you were asked to."

"I did a research project on John Muir and it took me a week to find out what you said in an hour.  Hopefully, my family will have the privilege of learning as much as I from John Muir and seeing such talent being performed."

"I walked away from your presentation thinking about how we are all so wrapped in our city lives, and how we don't appreciated and interact with our environment enough.  I feel motivated to go out and do my part to protect and enjoy our nature."

Relevant Quotes by John Muir:

“Parks might be set apart and protected for public use forever, containing at least a few hundred of these noble pines, spruces, and firs.  Happy will be the men who, having the power and the love and the benevolent forecast to do this, will do it.  They will not be forgotten.  The trees and their lovers will sing their praises, and generations yet unborn will rise up and call them blessed.”

“The Universe would be incomplete without man, but it would also be incomplete without the smallest transmicroscopic creature that dwells beyond our conceitful eyes and knowledge.  In Wilderness this truth is readily apparent and man can feel himself part of wild nature. From such knowledge comes the respect for the rights of all the rest of creation.”

Contact Information

Douglas Hulmes
Professor of Environmental Studies and Education
Prescott College
220 Grove Ave.
Prescott, Arizona, 86301
(928) 778 2090 ext. 2228

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