Ecojustice role models

Each year, campers at Ecojustice Camp learn about ecojustice role models — people who helped teach the world about respect for the interdependent web of life, including both other human beings (even those who don’t look or talk like us!), and the rest of the natural world.

Here are the ecojustice role models that we will focus on at camp:

Wangari Maathai


Wangari Maathai (1940-2011) founded the Green Belt Movement in Kenya. The Green Belt movement organized women to plant trees throughout Kenya.

Planting trees in Kenya helped stop soil erosion, generated income for women, and made life better both for human beings and for other living beings. Maathia also worked for democracy in Kenya. For her many accomplishments, Dr. Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.


Henry David Thoreau

Henry Thoreau (1817-1862) is most famous for spending two years living at Walden Pond in a cabin he built himself, living on food that he mostly raised himself.

Thoreau believed that we humans could live better by living in better harmony with the natural world. Thoreau also was a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and he went to jail for refusing to pay taxes to support the Spanish American War in Mexico.


Cesar Chavez

Cesar Chavez (1927-1993) was one of the great leaders in the environmental justice movement. Chavez saw that California farmworkers lived and worked in a high polluted environments.

He helped farmworkers fight for their rights, including the right to be safe from the toxic pesticides used in farm fields. March 31, Cesar Chavez’s birthday, is a state holiday in California.



Ishi (1861-1916) was born into the Yahi Indian tribe of northern California. Yahi land was spoiled by the environmental effects of the Gold Rush, and many Yahis were killed by whites. Finally, Ishi was the only Yahi left, and he stayed in hiding on traditional Yahi lands.

At last, Ishi decided to come out of hiding in 1911, when he was nearly 50 years old. He learned English, and went to work for the University of California. Before he died in 1916, he taught many others about his Yahi culture, including the Yahi respect for all living things.

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson helped to draw attention to the problem of toxic chemicals in the environment (more info coming soon).

Text on this page copyright (c) 2015 Dan Harper. Used by permission. Photographs are public domain images from Wikimedia Commons.