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Oklahoma Sierra Club announces new executive director


By Darla Shelden

City Sentinel Reporter

The Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club has announced as of Jan. 5, Johnson Bridgwater is the organization’s new Executive Director.

“Over several months the Search Committee reviewed eighteen qualified applicants for this important leadership position,” said Chapter Chair Barbara VanHanken.

“Ironically, Johnson was our first candidate interviewed and was very impressive with his self-dedication and knowledge of the importance of the protection and maintenance of our natural environment.

“His history and skill-set matches up very well with the demands of leading the largest grassroots environmental organization with a paid lobbyist in Oklahoma.”

Raised by a scientist and an environmental educator, Johnson has spent much of his life working to make the world a greener place.

Bridgwater said, “Humankind has created a moment requiring action like none other before. I awoke this year to realize I needed to become one of those acting so I could look my daughter in the face and honestly tell her I am trying my best to give her an Earth worth inheriting.

“Little did I know then that I would be given a chance for such profound action by being hired as the Chapter Director of Oklahoma Sierra Club.”

Bridgwater earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Oklahoma and did graduate coursework in English and landscape architecture.

Former positions include Public Outreach and Grant Administrator at Meshek and Associates in Tulsa, Rail Programs Division manager at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, and Horticulturist and Educator at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

He also co-founded WildShare International, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving both culture and environment.

“My time for merely looking forward to the changing of the seasons and the raking of leaves is gone,” Bridgwater said.

“Joining with all of Oklahoma’s dedicated Sierra Club volunteers, I look forward to working hard to find new volunteers, to growing our base and to expanding our outreach.

“Whether I am walking the halls of the State Capitol, meeting with the citizens of Oklahoma, or hiking with a child who has never done so, my goal is to help Sierra Club and its members carry out their vision for making our state a greener, safer and healthier place for all Oklahomans.”

The organization was busy this past year resisting legislation calling for depressing wind energy production and legislation maintaining large tax breaks for the petroleum industry, along with other efforts including attacks on science education in Oklahoma’s schools. ‘

VanHanken said, “We know we will be facing some of these same issues again this year.

“We anticipate a swell of grassroots demands for action to stop the dramatic increase of earthquakes in rural Oklahoma that is causing real health problems, damages to property and anxiety for people living near these intensive injection wells.”

She continued, “Johnson has a dramatic learning curve to conquer when it comes to working in tandem with National Sierra Club and directing the state chapter while supporting the groups. Believe me, he is anxious to get started.”

This spring, the organization will host its annual Lobby Day at the State Capitol.

“Lobby Day brings volunteers into the capital offices with our list of bills to support or to oppose,” VanHanken said. “This puts an important face on our vital legislative issues with our representatives.”

Established in 1972, the Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club has over 3,000 dues paying members across the state with monthly meetings in Norman (Red Earth Group), Oklahoma City (Cimarron Group) and Tulsa (Green Country Group).

Bridgwater added, “I consider it an honor to be chosen for such an amazing responsibility. Please join me in making 2015 the greenest, safest and healthiest year we can for Oklahoma.”

To learn more, call 405-286-2277 or visit

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