Jim French on His Service Award and Conserving Our Public Lands

Long-time Mountaineers member and super volunteer Jim French received this year’s Service Award. From hands-on trail work to advocating for conservation funding and legislation, Jim is an example of how The Mountaineers works to protect the outdoor experience.
Jim French Jim French
Service Award Recipient & Olympia Super Volunteer
February 06, 2019

This award is quite an honor. There are so many great volunteers, thousands in The Mountaineers. How could anyone pick one? It didn’t seem possible that I was selected for the Service Award with so much competition.

Perhaps Mountaineers are so passionate about helping others experience the outdoors that we don't realize we volunteer to the extreme. It’s this passion and commitment that drives our organization and makes this community a second family to many.

As I was trying to process that I was chosen for this award, all I could think was that I don't deserve it any more than the thousands of other volunteers. Then I thought, “Wait a minute - I must have something relevant to share about my experience and my commitment to our public lands.” So here is what I have to offer.

The Mountaineers provides us with access to the greatest places on earth. From the trails along the Pacific Coast to the mountains, glaciers, giant trees, and streams clean enough to support salmon and Orca, the Pacific Northwest is unparalleled. And I, for one, am so concerned that we are about to lose some of these natural treasures and the experiences they provide.

The Mountaineers plays many different roles in helping to protect our public lands, starting with the critical role of getting people onto glaciers, into forests, and on the water, where we can see, hear, and touch nature - knowing firsthand what it will mean to lose it.  

We help ensure that anyone can enjoy nature and have those experiences, reminding us that this is our inheritance, these public lands are ours to enjoy. The Mountaineers gives us reason to spend time outdoors and to enjoy The Freedom of the Hills. Without these great public lands, The Mountaineers wouldn’t be the leading outdoor education and conservation organization it is today.

What is wonderful about our public lands is that they belong to everyone. I also think the responsibility for their care belongs to everybody, and falls heavily on those who use and enjoy these resources.

Teddy Roosevelt was one of our nations’ greatest advocates for public lands. One of the things he conveyed is that we have a duty and a responsibility for their care. He said:

"We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune."

We choose to be stewards of our public lands not only to pay tribute to our great fortune, but out of an obligation to give back. That is why the Olympia Branch issued a Stewardship Challenge, in which every Mountaineer spends a day, or more, on stewardship activity each year to show that we are worthy of our good fortune. Please join us as we seek to honor the incredible landscape we all call home.

And to my friends and family in the Olympia Branch and throughout the organization – thank you for all that you do.


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Tess Wendel
Tess Wendel says:
Tue, Feb 12, 2019 3:00 PM

go Jim!