Md. Couple Receives National Volunteering Awards From Sierra Club

    A husband and wife, who are volunteer leaders for the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club, both received national volunteering awards from the national organization.

    Rosa Hance is the chair of the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club, the youngest woman to serve as a chapter leader. She helped expand Maryland Sierra Club’s social media platform, especially on Instagram, where the chapter has almost doubled its number of followers under her leadership, State Director Joshua Tulkin said.

    Since the beginning of the COVID-19 quarantine, Hance developed the “Connector” program (#SCMConnector), which shifted social media posts from mostly political to educational tips and activities on how individuals can take restorative actions at home. A post from July 15, for instance, lists six ways to lessen a family’s environmental impact daily, such as committing to #MeastlessMonday or reducing single-use plastics.

    Rosa Hance also spearheaded Weekly Wanders, a program that invites parents and children to morning weekday outings. She helped plan 30 outings a year for two years, with 20 people attending each outing, all of which helped recruit more members to the Sierra Club Maryland chapter, Tulkin said.

    This month, Hance organized a forum on justice and equity aspects of solar energy, with a focus on community solar. She also hosted an environmental justice forum to highlight the interconnection between the environment and impacts on communities of color, especially in Southern Maryland.

    Hance was awarded the Susan E. Miller Award, which celebrates volunteer leaders who have made “significant and notable administrative and leadership contributions” in Sierra Club’s regional chapters.

    Her husband, Ben Hance, is the group chair for the Southern Maryland Group of the Sierra Club. To help welcome new Sierra Club members, Ben Hance routinely organized the data on all new members in the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club and sent that information to local leaders so that they could reach out to new members in their region and provide them with a local contact.

    The Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club has 10 local groups that serve smaller geographical areas in the state.

    Ben Hance also began to keep track of Sierra Club members’ demographics, such as their age, race and which county they were from, which are all important to know when thinking about equity, Tulkin said.

    Ben Hance received the Denny and Ida Wilcher Award, which celebrates work in membership recruitment and development, such as efforts to increase the geographic and demographic diversity of members.

    “It is hard to overstate the contributions this power couple has made to the Southern Maryland Group and Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club,” Tulkin said in a statement. “This ranges from recruiting and training new members to greater attention to environmental and social justice to pushing through local and state bills that protect the health and environment of Marylanders.”

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    Elizabeth Shwe
    Shwe covered California state politics during her internship at The Sacramento Bee. She is a 2020 graduate of Princeton University with a degree in political science. At Princeton she was a producer for WPRB 103.3 FM News & Culture section, the station’s only long form podcast-type program. Shwe also wrote for The Daily Princetonian, and tutored with the Petey Greene Program, which offers free tutoring to incarcerated people. Shwe is a Report for America corps member.