Virginia Bazin - Lutz, Fla.
Inner City Outings leader, Tampa Bay Group
Before Virginia Bazin got involved with the Sierra Club, her idea of a good time was to get out of Florida. "I couldn't get past the heat and the bugs," says Bazin.
That changed when she began volunteering with the Tampa Bay Group's Inner City Outings program. "I developed an appreciation for Florida," says Bazin. "We have wonderful rivers and state parks. The woods and the rivers are outrageously beautiful. And then there are the Everglades. . ."
For six years, Bazin led monthly outings for the Children's Home, a group foster home in Tampa. The program was a perfect match for Bazin, who will retire this year after teaching mentally and physically handicapped children for 30 years. "If you like children and the environment, you can't beat it," says Bazin.
Bazin, who grew up in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, was introduced to nature by her father, a conservationist who loved fishing and family trips out west. Bazin has passed on her love of nature to hundreds of children, both through Inner City Outings and by helping create and lead the "Skinks," an environmental education program for families.
After she retires, Bazin plans to get married, travel and spend time with her new family. The Florida heat still gets to her, so she'll spend her summers in Pennsylvania. She'll return to Florida each winter, though, and plans to still lead outings. "Now I can't imagine ever leaving Florida permanently," says Bazin.
Jorg Lange - San Francisco, Calif.
When not volunteering with the Sierra Club to promote smart growth (his internship ends this month), Jorg Lange walks his talk by living and working in Vauban, a sustainable model community in Freiburg, Germany.
"Life is more fun without cars," says Lange. "We need to give the streets back to the children."
In addition to a pleasing paucity of cars, Vauban boasts a solar passive house - a project initiated by Lange - and innovative eco-sanitation, including vacuum toilets and a system for the recycling of phosphorus. (For more information visit www.vauban.de.)
Lange, who was born in Darmstadt, Germany, moved to Freiburg to study limnology, the biology of fresh water. Freiburg, known as Germany's "Solar Valley" for its support of solar energy, turned out to be a perfect choice for a budding environmentalist. Lange now sits on the managing board of the Vauban citizens' association and earns a living as a consultant on water issues.
Lange's three-month sojourn in San Francisco (he arrived on April 8) marks his first time outside of Europe. So far, the highlights of his time in California have been a five-day backpacking trip near Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite and a hike on the Monterey coast, where he was lucky enough to spot five migrating gray whales, including several calves.
He also spent a weekend hiking in Death Valley before deciding that the desert may not be the best outdoor spot for a limnologist. "I didn't really like it," says Lange. "Maybe because there wasn't any water!"
Pat Suter - Corpus Christi, Texas
Executive Committee Chair, Coastal Bend Group
For Pat Suter, persistence has been the key to success. Suter is part of an environmental coalition in Texas that has worked on 15 major issues since the 1960s, and only lost twice.
Protecting Texas' special natural places, however, has often required winning not once, but over and over again. "We've stopped the dredging of Packery Channel four or five times," says Suter.
Concern over a plan to bring water from the Mississippi River to the panhandle of Texas led Suter, a retired professor of chemistry, and her late husband Hans, also a chemist, to begin speaking out about environmental issues.
Suter's interest in the environment also stems in part from her favorite hobby, bird-watching. A waterbird viewing area in Corpus Christi was named in honor of Suter and her husband after they helped stop a marina that would have destroyed the area's sensitive marsh and mudflat habitat.
When not going up against big developers, Suter enjoys watching birds in her own backyard. She attracts them with a pond, bird feeders and a special peanut butter concoction that is especially popular with local woodpeckers.
She hasn't had much time for bird-watching lately, though. A developer recently proposed dredging Packery Channel to create more waterfront property.
Good thing Suter is persistent.
Up to Top