Greenspace: Sierra Club coming back to Rochester
The city of Rochester is an untapped resource, and the Sierra Club hopes to find a treasure trove of helpful volunteers here in the Med City.
Andrea Kiepe, Rochester clean energy organizer with the Sierra Club North Star Chapter, who has moved to Rochester to help start developing a local chapter, said the organization is hoping to grow an active local group after years of letting Rochester lie fallow.
"I'm not sure how many Sierra Club members live in Rochester," said Kiepe, who is new to the national environmental organization. Part of her uncertainty, she said, stems from the difficulty in defining just who in Rochester is a member.
With no local parent organization, folks in Rochester who belong to the Sierra Club are generally unattached members who might give a yearly donation, but aren't really out planning activities or raising awareness locally.
That, she said, is about to change. While the group had been active in Rochester in the past, the Sierra Club is really run at the local level in its individual chapters. That, though, means that, like any volunteer group, it's only as effective as the leaders who put in the energy to make things happen. "That kind of leadership ebbs and flows," Kiepe said.
Which is why she is here to help guide Sierra Club members, getting them involved and helping facilitate a local core of leaders. "Rochester has a lot of people who believe in the Sierra Club mission," Kiepe said. "And they are always out there when we have activities in the area. As a full-time staffer in Rochester, I'm doing the things you need to do to get the chapter going again, and get people excited about the mission."
That mission will focus on clean energy and a clean environment, she said. "The Sierra Club is not a fan of coal plants and loves clean renewable energy," Kiepe said. "Your coal plant is already closing, but we'd like to work with the local utility to go farther and see where we can push this clean energy."
Kiepe said that while she is new to the Sierra Club, she has a track record working with volunteers for nonprofit organizations. A love of the environment is part of her genes. Raised on a farm in southeast Missouri, she said that once she saw Minnesota, she fell in love. But the outdoors here remind her of the lessons she learned from her father, who worked the land while avoiding pesticides and too much fertilizer because it made financial sense as well as environmental sense.
"Dad taught me from my youth that the land and water are precious heirlooms," she said.
Now that's she's here, Kiepe hopes to bring that love of the environment and her experience to help grow the local Sierra Club chapter through an interest in energy issues and climate change.
"I want to do the basic work of meeting with the people who have been active here," she said regarding her first steps. "Then I want a strong local presence here."
Sierra Club North Star Chapter
Andrea Kiepe, Rochester Clean Energy Organizer