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Wisconsin Celebrates John Muir's 150th Birthday

Wisconsin State Journal
Wednesday, February 17, 1988

John Muir Day - it's a natural

Wisconsin will celebrate "John Muir Day" on April 21, the state Assembly agreed, 97-0, on Tuesday. The proclamation in honor of the 150th birthday of the famous naturalist was made at the suggestion of Kathy Lee's fourth-grade pupils at John Muir Elementary School, on the far West Side of Madison. Rep. Spencer Black, D-Madison, in sponsoring the bill, said the children were "savvy to suggest a John Muir Day and not designate John Muir as the state naturalist." Muir moved from Scotland with his family to a farm near Portage when he was 11.

Accompanied by State Journal photo by L. Roger Turner [omitted]

Additional background:

Press Release for Wisconsin's John Muir Day

Muir School Students Deliver Resolution to Declare 1988 a Commemorative Year in Honor of John Muir to Representative Spencer Black

December 18, 1987

The 150th anniversary of the birth of pioneering naturalist and wilderness advocate John Muir is a big deal to some elementary school students in Madison. So much so that they have taken it upon themselves to ensure that residents of the state he grew up in are aware of the legacy his lifetime provided to all Americans, and that his vision for a national park system for America started on a small farm in what is now Marquette County.

With the help of their teacher, Kathy Lee, students at the John Muir School have drafted a resolution proclaiming 1988 a Commemorative Year for Wisconsin in honor of the school's namesake. A delegation of students will deliver the resolution to state representative Spencer Black in his office at the state Capitol today, symbolically kicking off the effort to establish the commemorative year. The ceremony will take place at 12:30 p.m. The resolution praises Muir's scientific, literary and conservation achievements, and recognizes his role in making all Americans aware of their natural heritage, and helping establish the modern Conservation movement. Muir was a founder of the Sierra Cub, one of the leading environmental organizations in the world.

The students want to call attention to the life of this great man, who grew up right here in Wisconsin," explained Kathy Lee, fourth grade teacher at the John Muir School. "Because our school is named after him, the children had a special interest in his achievements and philosophy."

The resolution was drafted by a committee of Lee's students, who studied Muir's life, as expressed by his writings, including his The Story of My Boyhood and Youth, an account of his formative years on the Fountain Lake Farm in Marquette County through his days as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin. According to Lee, this book has had a special significance for her students. Muir credited his days on the farm with having had the greatest influence on his personal evolution and the pace where he conceived the idea of the national park system.

"I'm glad he did what he did because my family goes to a national park every summer," said Jonathan Stier, a member of the six student committee which drafted the resolution for their classmates. The other students were, Yusuf Binrella, Joshua Edelman, Jeremy Levin, Erik Olson, and Aaron Swenson.

The resolution will be sponsored by Rep. Spencer Black, former Associate Midwest Representative for the Sierra Club, with passage expected in early Spring. "We hope it can be passed in time for his birthday," said Kathy Lee.

Source: Press Release from Sierra Club, Midwest Office
Date: 1987 December 18

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