Twenty-something takes Sierra Club's helm

  • Sierra Club's new president Adam Werbach with his mentor, David Brower

  In the midst of moving its offices from San Francisco's run-down Tenderloin district to the trendy South of Market district, the Sierra Club elected a new president, 23-year-old Adam Werbach. Werbach will be in charge of a network of 5,000 volunteers and the club's professional staff. He is 24 years younger than the average member.

Werbach aims to decrease the age gap. Part of his mission this year is to oust members of Congress who continue to vote against the environment. To succeed, he says he needs the support of his generation. "Young voters are a key swing vote and are moved to vote for the environment," he says. Werbach plans to attract new members by using the internet, fashion, art and music. "This is a new Sierra Club that is very focused with its resources, and with sophisticated political goals."

Werbach doesn't think that targeting young, mostly urban members will cost the club support in the hinterlands; he plans to spend half his time out of the office meeting with members around the country. But the result of a recent Sierra Club ballot initiative calling for an end to all commercial logging on federal lands suggests that some Westerners feel estranged from Sierra Club policy. The initiative passed in every state but Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska.

Werbach began circulating petitions for the club when he was 8 years old in Southern California. As a teenager, he founded the Sierra Student Coalition, which now boasts 30,000 members. He joined the Sierra Club board of directors at 21. - Heather Abel

High Country News Classifieds