5 f Press Release
January 14, 2004

For more information, contact:
Ellen Laubhan or Jackie O’Hara

School District
(970) 490-3482

Parent Donates Time and Earnings

Fort Collins
environmental writer, parent and volunteer, Gary Wockner, has donated $500 to Poudre School District’s Lab School for Creative Learning. Wockner received the money as a writing fee for an article that appears in the Jan/Feb 2004 edition of Orion, a prominent national magazine focusing on nature writing and environmental issues.

Orion article, “Get on the Bus: Post-hip soccer dad meets supercool eco-star,” discusses his escapades over a weekend last September where he follows environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill and actor-activist Woody Harrelson on their traveling “We The Planet” show from Fort Collins to Boulder. Also during that weekend, Wockner accompanied one of his daughters on an environmental fieldtrip with the Lab School and refereed his other daughter’s soccer game. The tension between being a traveling journalist and a school-volunteering soccer-dad is what drives the article.

“I was initially hoping to write a sort-of Tom Wolfe journalistic piece where I got on the bus with these high-profile stars and followed them around,” Wockner says. “But I had other commitments that weekend. As I was standing in the mud on the environmental fieldtrip at the confluence of the Poudre and South Platte rivers with my daughter’s 4th grade class, I realized that was the story, and that there were numerous connections between the events.”

The Lab School for Creative Learning is a public elementary school within Poudre School District that specializes in experiential education and service learning. It has about 120 students and a fixed class size of 15, both of which provide a small, comfortable, and innovative atmosphere. Fieldtrips are the norm and teachers are given latitude to create and grow so that students can do the same.

Julia Butterfly Hill is the environmental activist who became internationally famous by sitting in and saving a redwood tree in Northern California for two years. In 1999, she wrote a best-selling book about the experience, The Legacy of Luna, and afterwards she used her resources to start the Circle of Life Foundation which “activates people through education, inspiration and connection to live in a way that honors the diversity and interdependence of all life.”

magazine has a similar focus. Since 1982, it has “worked to reconnect human culture with the natural world, blending scientific thinking with the arts, engaging the heart and mind, and striving to make clear what we all have in common.” Renowned writers such as Barbara Kingsolver, Wendell Berry, Barry Lopez, and Terry Tempest Williams often write for the magazine.

“These things are all tied together,” says Wockner. “As I was writing the article, it became clear that Julia and Woody’s message in their shows was the same message as the Lab School – hands-on, earth stewardship, and service. The piece just wound nicely around that theme. Orion is the ideal placement for this article. They put out a beautiful, provocative publication with a similar mission.”

has a history of literary eco-philanthropy. Among other efforts, in 2003, he published a novel, BicycleCowboy.com, which donates $2/book to the wildlife preservation group, Sinapu, which co-leads, with the Sierra Club, the Southern Rockies Wolf Restoration Project. Wockner also works as a wildlife ecologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins and writes for other local and regional publications.

“I greatly enjoy writing and I’m a committed conservationist,” he says. “With these donations, I’m trying to keep the inspiration rolling.”

The article, “Get on the Bus,” can be viewed from the author’s website (GaryWockner.com), Lab School’s website (www.psdschools.org/lab), or by purchasing Orion magazine.


For more information contact:
Stephen Bergen, Lab School principal at 482-2506 or sbergen@psdschools.org.
Gary Wockner, parent, author, and wildlife ecologist at Colorado State University at 491-5724 or garywockner@comcast.net.