Inside Our Chapter
Courtesy Joan Wilson
The Sierra Club is America's oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization.
The Club promotes conservation by influencing public policy through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. We work to defend the environment at all levels of government including U.S. Congress, state legislatures, and state and federal courts.
Explore, enjoy and protect the wild places of the earth. Practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources. Educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment. Use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.
The Pennsylvania Chapter was organized in the early 1970s and is comprised of 26,000 members in ten Groups and one committee area, as shown on the map below. Click on the map to open a Group's website or to send an email to the Group's Outings chair for more information on what's going on in their area.
Map Courtesy Mike LaMark
The ten Groups inside our Chapter are the Lake Erie (LKE), Allegheny (ALG), Moshannonp (MSH), Otzinachson (OTZ), Lancaster (LAN), Kittatinny (KIT), Governor Pinchot (GVP), Lehigh Valley (LVH), Northeastern (NEA), and Southeastern(SPG). SPG has two subcommittees: Bucks County, and Chester County Conservation Committees.
Courtesy Elana Richman
In 1983 the Chapter opened an office in Harrisburg to conduct chapter business operations and lobby state legislators on environmental policies. The office houses Chapter Director, Jeff Schmidt, and Administrative Assistant, Carli Timpson, who perform a variety of lobbying, member service, and administrative functions. In addition, the office regularly hosts an intern.
In 2004 the national Club opened Field offices in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Headed by Rachel Martin, the national staff members work on the Building Environmental Community program, the Blue Green Alliance, Sierra Student Coalition, and other national priority programs and campaigns.
The Chapter ExCom is composed of three delegates from the Southeastern Group, two from the Allegheny Group, and one from each of the other groups. Additionally, six At-Large Delegates are elected by the general membership for two year terms on alternating years. The excom elects its own officers, including the Conservation Chair, who appoints the 14 Conservation Issue Chairs, each focusing on a specific conservation topic such as air quality, public lands, or water quality.
The Chapter ExCom focuses on three primary areas:
Courtesy Joan Wilson
Conservation: The Chapter Conservation Committee allocates staff time and financial resources for about six of the many issues that come up each year. The choice is determined by a variety of factors, including bills that are pending in the legislature, precedent-setting cases, or strong support from Sierra Club members.
Politics: The excom discusses political campaigns and issues, and determines which candidates to endorse and holding elected officials accountable.
Organizational development: The excom oversees the operation of the Club’s Harrisburg office, identifies new leaders, and provides them with mentoring and training.
The ExCom meets six times a year, including at the annual family retreat weekend. Excom meetings, like national meetings, are open to all members. Although members can’t vote, they can voice their opinions.
See our Chapter Directory for contact information for our Chapter and Group excom members and other volunteer leaders, as well as for our state's National and Chapter offices.
Courtesy Joan Wilson
Although internships in the Sierra Club’s Harrisburg office are unpaid, students participating in the program have the opportunity to learn more about the legislative process, assist in lobbying efforts to influence legislators and other decision makers, strategize with environmental leaders, take part in press conferences, and help out with a variety of activities that support grassroots advocacy, including preparation of mailings, database management, volunteer recruitment, and environmental issue research.
Want to hear what former interns have to say about the program? Read about the experiences with two former interns at A Sierra Club Semester.
For more information about our internship program, click here: Information
Courtesy Dave Coleman
Our Groups sponsor a wide variety of outdoor activities, including backpacking, hiking, caving, biking, and service opportunities at local parks. Listings of Group Outings appear in each issue of the Group and Chapter newsletters. Outings are also available via Group websites. See Our Groups above to access a Group's website or to send an email to the Group's Outings chair for more information.
All participants on Sierra Club outings are required to sign a standard liability waiver. If you would like to read the liability waiver before you chose to participate on an outing, please go to individual liability waiver.
Outing leaders, please download, print out, and have all participants sign the sign-in waiver sheet. We also suggest you print out and bring extra copies of the individual liability waiver sheets. The individual liability waiver covers all events, so once an individual has signed this waiver, they do not need to sign it again for other outings.
Courtesy Sierra magzine
A wealth of information can be found on the National Sierra Club website. On this site you can read and download environmental fact sheets, brochures, and other publications on environmental issues. The Sierra Club’s Web site has a “take action” page where you can send faxes, e-mails and letters to public officials. You can also sign up to receive e-mail alerts.
The site also includes blogs by Carl Pope and other Club luminaries, professional-quality films, slide shows, photographic essays, and articles from Sierra, the Club's national magazine. You can also use the website to join the Club's numerous discussion lists to keep abreast of important environmental issues and Club activities.
One of the ways many people become familiar with the Sierra Club is through our books and calendars.
Sierra Club Books has published more than 700 titles and sold more than 14 million books and calendars since its inception. The Books Department publishes books for children and adults, and Chapters and groups raise money every year by selling calendars.
The Sierra Club also has a recently established television and film production company—Sierra Club Productions—which produced the award-winning Ansel Adams documentary for PBS in 2002.
The Club supports a staff of about fifty in Washington DC to lobby on Federal environmental issues. Current legislation of interest to the Club can be found at www.sierraclub.org/legislativetracker/.
The Sierra Club is the nation's leader in grassroots environmental litigation. The Club's Environmental Law Program creates and prosecutes the legal strategies for the Sierra Club's nationwide grassroots campaigns. The Environmental Law Program's docket covers the entire range of environmental issues, from local fights over ill-planned sprawl to cases of national significance on clean air, clean water and wilderness.
The Sierra Club Foundation is a public charity whose mission is to provide financial support to the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations for tax deductible work. It funds a range of environmental projects which fall into the three general categories of public education, litigation, and training.
This non-political arm of the Sierra Club receives tax-deductible contributions for such purposes as research (forestry, wildlife, wilderness-impact, etc.), sponsoring conferences, producing films, books and other educational material, purchasing land, paying for public-interest lawsuits, etc.
The financial support for The Sierra Club Foundation comes from individual donors and foundations who recognize that The Sierra Club Foundation is the most effective organization to sponsor important environmental work.
Courtesy Sasha Shahidi
The Sierra Student Coalition a network of high school and college students from across the country working to protect the environment. The SSC is the youth-run (age 14-30) chapter of the Sierra Club with a mission is to develop leaders for the environmental movement by training, empowering, and organizing youth to run effective campaigns that result in tangible environmental victories.
The National Sierra Club sponsors about 300 trips yearly, both national and international, for people of all ages and skill levels. A few of the dozen or so trip categories are: base-camp, canoe-kayak, backpacking, ski-touring, river rafting, and cleanup. Details for all these National Outings are available online and in Sierra magazine.