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Live Presenters Portraying John Muir


For a humorous essay about Muir impersonators, see "Will the Real Fake John Muir Please Stand Up?" by Michael Branch,  Sustainable Play: Long-form Storytelling at the Confluence of People, Planet, and Play. (August 8, 2018.) Reprinted from Branch's book How to Cuss in Western, this essay tells the story of the time the author was at a party with not one, not two, but three John Muir impersonators. Hilarity ensues! This piece celebrates Muir (and his greatest impersonator) while poking fun at the public humanities tradition of Chautauqua.


The following links includes descriptions, photos, audio and/or video clips, and contact information, when available. The list is in two parts - presenters portraying Muir, and presenters speaking about John Muir.


Live Portrayals of John Muir

  • Don Baldwin (CA) - Retired Resident Minister in Yosemite National Park, gives presentations in character and with a multimedia slide show in the northern California area. (off-site link)
  • John Kolar (OH) - Geauga Park District Chief Naturalist John Kolar has portrayed Muir in various venues in Ohio for years.
  • Frank Helling (CA)
  • Doug Hulmes (AZ)
  • Gerald Pelrine (WI ) - deceased 2020
  • Mark Raddatz (WA)
  • Dick Shore - after 29 years, Dick Shore of Kentucky retired from doing live John Muir portrayals in 2017.
  • Lee Stetson (CA)
  • John Wallace (IL)
  • Paul Akert (off-site link)- Portraying John Muir in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, beginning on April 22, 2019, in a performance titled."John Muir's World:d Boyhood to Adult 1838 - 1914, " and most recently on July 29, 2021 in Chippewa, Wisconsin. The first program featured a re-enactment and PowerPoint program "John Muir's World" bringing to life the story of John Muir from his early days in Wisconsin, education at UW in Madison, his journey to the Sierra Nevada mountains, and years as a writer and advocate for the creation of Yosemite National Park with Theodore Roosevelt. The more recent program is performed without visuals in a storytelling mode. Journalist Walter Rhein notes, "At's likely that most people in our area have heard John Muir's name, but it's hard to get the full sense of a person's life through a couple bland passages in a dusty high school text book. In the hands of a gifted storyteller like Paul Akert, the true dynamic appeal of a figure such as Muir will become apparent.... Akert's performance is the next best thing to interacting with John Muir himself. During the program, Akert will split his time both in and out of character. This allows him to alternate between bringing Muir to life, and discussing his life and achievements in a greater historical context." As the organizers note, "the spiritual quality and enthusiasm toward nature expressed in Muir's writings has inspired generations of earth-conscious readers to take action to help preserve large nature areas." [Source: http://www.organicarts.info] For more info, see http://www.paulakert.com.
  • Bill Harley (off-site link) a children's storyteller, musician and author, performs John Muir's Stickeen, the true story of Muir's adventure with a dog on a glacier in Alaska in both public performances and a new CD, "John Muir's Stickeen told by Bill Harley." Bill Harley explains: "This story has accompanied me through my whole adult life and I still love it. Muir's overarching message is that we share the world with other living creatures, and they have as much right to it as we do. Muir's ethos is at the heart of the movement to preserve the natural world for all of us. He's one of my heroes." A two-time Grammy award winner, Hartley, usually Accompanied by his guitar, creates narrative songs and stories, both original and traditional, for children and adults.

Live Presenters About John Muir

  • See Presenters at recent John Muir Conferences.
  • See Living People Influenced by John Muir
  • Donnell Rubay - Author of "Stickeen: John Muir and the Brave Little Dog"
  • Peter and Donna Thomas, a Santa Cruz couple with a long interest in California's mountains and wildflowers, set out in 2006 trying to reconstruct John Muir's first cross-state trek from Oakland to Yosemite in 1868. The couple followed Muir's 300-mile route, altered as necessary to get past the freeways, housing developments, irrigation canals, factories and industrial-scale farms that have since popped up. Their experience have resulted in a Guidebook of the Muir Ramble Route, and a detailed account of Muir's 1868 trip, in Anywhere That is Wild, published by the Yosemite Conservancy.
  • Ginger Wadsworth - Author of "John Muir, Wilderness Protector"
  • Harold Wood - Webmaster of the John Muir Exhibit & Chair of the Sierra Club John Muir Education Committee. His illustrated presentations include: "John Muir's Continuing Inspiration," "John Muir Around the World," "John Muir and the Animal Kingdom," and "John Muir in India." He is also available for workshops to discuss the John Muir in education (including the John Muir Study Guide and History Day), John Muir in general, or other Muir-related topics such as the California State Quarter. Contact: harold.wood@sierraclub.org .
  • Mike Wurtz - Head of Special Collections and Associate Professor, is available to speak on John Muir, including his new book John Muir's Grand Yosemite: Musings and Sketches which features locations where Muir made his drawings, pairing them with quotes and information. University of the Pacific is the Home of the John Muir Papers. See his recorded YouTube presentation on Yosemite Through John Muir's Drawings from August 6, 2020.

For a comprehensive listing of presenters, see the John Muir Bibliography's Live Presentations Section.



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