Volunteer profile: Ellen Loehman

By Mona Blaber

Ellen Loehman is our website manager. She posts most of the content you see on our website.

How did you get involved with the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter?

I’ve been a member of the Sierra Club since about 1970. I was active in the Loma Prieta Chapter in the Bay Area, and when we moved here, we naturally started attending meetings. I volunteered in the office once a week, was on the ExComm, handled membership and did the newsletter for a while. But that dissipated with kids and career. After I retired, I knew it was time to re-activate myself.

What type of work do you do for the chapter?

I am the Tuesday volunteer in the Albuquerque office. But once Camilla found out that I knew how to handle websites, that became my primary job — adding events and articles to our website.

Why do you volunteer for the Rio Grande Chapter?

A: Why not? I have three passions in life (besides my family): science, education and the environment. Those passions didn’t end with retirement. What else should I do? Play golf or bridge? That is not the way I was raised.

What inspires you to work for the environment?

Our home needs advocates — people who take a reasoned approach to the choices we must make. As a chemist, I understand the trade-offs that we make about energy: the pros and cons of nuclear, petroleum and renewable energy. I understand the plight of people who struggle simply to survive — to have food, clean water and shelter. I’m definitely not a tree-hugger.

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

Do what you can and what you are comfortable with. Volunteer organizations tend to use people up if they can’t say no. For instance, I stated clearly that I would give three hours a week in the office; I don’t like to call people on the phone and so I don’t. Find your strengths and offer them up: Can you make phone calls or write letters? Can you research an issue or attend political meetings? Can you write an article? Can you organize stuff? Can you take notes? Can you do fundraising?

What’s your favorite thing about the Sierra Club?

True story. This is the reason I know we will survive the next four years. In the early 1980s, we had a Secretary of the Interior (James Watt) who was likened to a fox guarding the chicken coop. Membership in environmental organizations soared.

The Sierra Club (which was then primarily an outings organization) spearheaded a petition drive to get him fired or discredited. I posted a petition on the bulletin board at work. One day after lunch, a man in bicycle gear stomped into my office and wanted to sign my petition. And that is how I met my husband, my soul-mate and love of my life. Dark clouds do have silver linings.

Would you like to help with website tasks or posting on social media? Please write to riogrande.chapter@sierraclub.org.

Volunteer profile: Ellen Loehman