Happy 117th birthday, John Muir!
A birthday bash for John Muir (1838-1914), the celebrated naturalist and conservationist, was held in the DeRosa University Center Marketplace on Tuesday, April 21 from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. This free celebration was hosted by the University’s John Muir Center, Bon Appetit and Sustaining Pacific as part of University of the Pacific’s Sustainability Month.
Muir, often dubbed “The Father of Our National Parks,” was America’s most famous and influential conservationist and naturalist; he also founded the Sierra Club, the oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, reports the Club’s website.
Professor Swagerty, Pacific’s resident expert on Muir, stated, “John Muir’s birthday and Earth Day are connected with most celebrations. That’s why we do this… It’s an important event.” Earth Day, first celebrated in the United States in 1970, is on April 22, the day after Muir’s birthday, informs USA.gov.
Attendees had the option of taking a selfie with a full-size cutout of Muir. A table inside the Marketplace boasted Scottish cake (Muir was a Scottish-American), stickers, birthday party hats and other items. The cake’s recipe was on display. Called Dundee cake, the recipe incorporates “candied fruit peel and candied cherries to make a delicious version of a Scottish Christmas favorite,” reports allrecipes.com.
Attendee Samantha Martinez ‘15 stated, “I am glad that I took the time out of my hectic day to swing by the UC for John Muir’s B-Day Bash! It was a great idea, and I appreciate the people who put this together for the man who loved and dedicated his life to nature. The cake was amazing, and the ‘selfie with Muir’ set-up was a cute activity.”
A Muir impersonator, who was wearing a mask, hiking stick and hiker’s garb, was present. Mike Wertz, an archivist in Holt-Atherton Special Collections, was the man behind the mask. The Special Collections are home to approximately 75 percent of the extant papers of Muir.
Students interested in learning more about Muir and the history of conservationism can take courses on those topics at Pacific. Professor Swagerty teaches HIST 136 American Environmental History and HIST 52 John Muir’s World: Origins of the Modern Conservation Movement (offered in Spring 2016), among other courses. HIST 130 History of California will be taught in the fall.
Other Sustainability Month events include the Fifth Annual Green Fashion Show on Friday, April 24 at 8 p.m. in Long Theatre and Stockton’s Earth Day Festival on April 26 at Victory Park from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
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