Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Secretary Sally Jewell: From Rainier to the State of the Union

Secretary Jewell volunteers with the Northwest
Youth Corps at Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.
Photo by Matt Christenson/BLM Oregon.
Watching the President's State of the Union address last night, it was fun to see a familiar face sitting in the front row in the audience: Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. Hers is a familiar face to Mount Rainier's volunteer and outreach programs for several reasons. For one thing, she's the only Secretary ever to have climbed Mount Rainier seven times! Admittedly, that's a high standard. But prior to becoming the Secretary of the Interior last spring, Jewell was a long-time Seattle resident and CEO of Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) headquartered there. Under her leadership, the business found many ways to support the park. REI employees have volunteered repeatedly, usually helping with trail maintenance projects. The company awarded a $20,000 grant to the Washington Trails Association, which helped maintain a partnership to engage volunteers in trail work at the park. When our outreach program created a program called "Camping Adventures with My Parents" (CAMP), REI donated some equipment items and rented others at discount rates. After the 2006 flood that devastated roads, trails, and campgrounds throughout Mount Rainier, local stores encouraged shoppers to donate to our recovery effort, and Jewell herself visited the park and pulled on work gloves to lend a hand. Jewell's son Peter also served as a volunteer climbing ranger at Mount Rainier for several years.

In her role as Secretary of the Interior, Jewell has championed youth engagement and volunteerism, and continues to lead by example, putting on the hard hat and working alongside crews at every opportunity. Who knows--someday we might talk her into returning to her old climbing grounds and working with us on, say, National Public Lands Day!

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