For the Rio Grande Chapter’s 55th anniversary, we’ve asked some of our lifetime members to talk about their relationship with the Sierra Club and the environment.

I was born in California to parents who were both Sierra Club members and who knew Club legends such as Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter.

Outings and being told to get outside and explore arroyos until dinner (thanks, Mom!) were a big part of my young life and profoundly influential into adulthood.

I grew up taking Sierra Club trips, including a memorable one to Glen Canyon before it was flooded by Lake Powell. You could still safely drink unfiltered water right out of the Colorado in those days, just letting the mud settle in your Sierra cup.

Later, I helped draft Rio Grande Chapter Energy Committee stances on WIPP, did trail maintenance in college with the Atlantic Chapter and helped the Angeles Chapter build a new website.

While I have been a member since childhood, a personal windfall some years back allowed me to fund my Life membership in the Club.

Adding Life to a lifetime in the Sierra Club. :-))

Salud y felicidad,

— Derek Wallentinsen

If you’re a lifetime or longtime Rio Grande Chapter member, shoot us an email at to tell us why!

Celebrating 55 years as a chapter: Lifetime member Derek Wallentinsen
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