Volunteer profile: Laurence Gibson

Volunteer profile: Laurence Gibson, El Paso Group chair

Laurence Gibson has been the Rio Grande Chapter secretary since 1999, El Paso Group chair, and beloved member of the Executive Committee. He’s a Renaissance Man who was concertmaster and first violinist with the El Paso Orchestra and a music professor at University of Texas-El Paso.   

 1. How and when did you get involved with the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter?

I had done backpacking with the El Paso Group for 15 years or so when they elected me chapter delegate in 1999. Much to my surprise, chair Gwen Wardwell appointed me secretary at that very first meeting, a position I’ve held ever since.

2. What type of work do you do for the chapter?

I divide my time between El Paso Group excom duties, where I lead meetings and write the newsletter, and the chapter, where I sit on the excom and personnel committees, represent the El Paso Group and take care of the minutes. Good minutes are really important for forward progress. Even with monthly meetings at the group level, busy volunteers will tend to repeat themselves without good minutes.

3. Why do you volunteer for the Rio Grande Chapter?

The work is important, but it is really about the people. Catching up with friends every few months, comparing notes, trading ideas to use at home in our groups, these are the fun things about meetings. The tough part is losing folks after years together. Norma McCallan was a wonderful friend we lost recently. Others like Blair Brown, Ilse Bleck and Mark Jones have moved on to other places and interests. So it is important to make new friends as well.

3. What inspires you to work for the environment?

Well, nature is my church. So I want to do what I can to preserve it. There is also the “use it or lose it” axiom. There are not nearly as many folks on the trail in the Gila as there were 20 or 30 years ago. That worries me. So we pretty much have it to ourselves now. There are those who would sell it out from under us. We need to be out there.

4. What would you tell others who are interested in doing more to help?

Follow your passion.

5. What’s your favorite thing about the Sierra Club?

I like that the Sierra Club is the name brand for conservation in America. We are powerful. It is also unusual that we are basically a volunteer organization aided by national and chapter staff, when so many non-profits function with just paid staffers and perhaps a few volunteers.

Volunteer profile: Laurence Gibson