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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Evel's Son Will Attempt Wembly Jump

BBC News: Evel Knievel's son to recreate double-decker bus stunt

The son of stuntman Evel Knievel plans to complete a double-decker bus jump that nearly ended his father's career.

Robbie Knievel, 47, will try to jump over 16 buses at Wembley, west London, in May - riding a classic Harley Davidson XR-750 machine.

Evel Knievel broke his pelvis during his 1975 bid to jump over 13 buses.

"Although my dad's jump ended with broken bones and a lot of pain, I'm confident he'll be smiling down on this one," Mr Knievel said.

"Daredevils are a dying breed. I'm proud to have been raised by one and to be one myself."

His father attempted the stunt in front of an audience of 90,000 people at Wembley Stadium, on 25 May 1975.

But his rear wheel clipped the last bus in the row and he somersaulted onto the ramp with the bike crashing down on top of him.

A concussed Knievel announced his retirement over the stadium's PA system.

Nevertheless he returned five months later, successfully clearing 14 buses in Ohio and setting a new world record.

The senior daredevil, who made 300 jumps before retiring in 1980, died aged 69 in November 2007.

His son gained fame in 1989 when he successfully jumped 150ft (45m) over the fountains at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.

He has completed more than 350 professional jumps, including 20 world records.

Mr Knievel said he was "looking forward" to making the attempt to clear the jump that thwarted his father.

"I can never fill the shoes of my father because he was the greatest stunt guy in the world - the greatest daredevil," he said.

"Whether I make or miss it, at least I gave it a shot."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Catching Up with EcoDaredevil Award Winner Kathleen Kennedy

Catching Up with EcoDaredevil Award Winner Kathleen Kennedy

Kathleen Kennedy is one of two 2009 winners of the EcoDaredevil award, which honors those who are taking risks to promote conservation and environmental sustainability. Kathleen, a Missoula high school biology teacher, was admonished by her own school board for showing "The Story of Stuff," a popular film about the environmental costs of rampant consumerism, but Kathleen persisted. Kathleen took time away from her busy teaching schedule to provide the following update on life since receiving the EcoDaredevil award in September.

Photo above: Kathleen's EcoDaredevil award helmet, complete with a signature from singer Eddie Vedder.

Receiving an EcoDaredevil award has been a really fun and inspiring experience. Thinking about Evel Knievel trying stunts and then dusting himself off and trying again when things didn’t go as planned reminds me of the resilience that I have had to bring forth since my ordeal began. Comparing myself to Evel of course also makes me laugh—something I didn’t do much last year!

The award has given me a light-hearted way to discuss controversy and polarization with my students. Ironically, the controversy about the
Story of Stuff as an educational video reached a new level just shortly after the EcoDaredevil awards ceremony. After being informed by one of his “watchdogs”, Glenn Beck of Fox News discussed the film and its use in classrooms on his program and incited his viewers to complain to their school boards. The Story of Stuff blog was filled with outrageous reactions. Having Glenn Beck challenge the Story of Stuff is yet another validation of the film’s important message and renews my resolve to ensure that students are given opportunities for critical thinking in my classroom.

On a funny note, I brought my EcoDaredevil helmet with me to Pearl Jam’s concert near Portland, OR in September with the plan to have the band’s bassist, Montana native Jeff Ament, with whom I had shared my story, sign it. To my surprise the entire band signed the helmet. I got to have a nice chat with Jeff before the show that included me giving him his own EcoDaredevil sticker! Interestingly, Eddie Vedder signed “with Love & Respect” and drew a picture of a wave, which makes me wonder if he is aware of the Great Turning (visit
http://www.thegreatturning.net/ for more info).

Photo above: Kathleen with Pearl Jam bassist and Montana native Jeff Ament, an EcoDaredevil supporter.

My school year is going really well so far and I think this award allowed me to put things in perspective and go forth! Thanks for recognizing the role that educators have in helping us jump the chasm to sustainability.

For more information on the EcoDaredevil award, visit
ecodaredevil.blogspot.com. For more on the Story of Stuff, visithttp://www.storyofstuff.com/.

-Kathleen Kennedy

The Clark Fork Watershed Education Project (CFWEP) uses outdoor activities and local experts to teach about the effects of settlement and industry on the Upper Clark Fork basin, and to give students and educators the scientific background to quantify the health of our watershed. Our philosophy is that place-based, hands-on, field and classroom activities instill in participants a clearer grasp of fundamental concepts and methods as well as creating a sense of watershed stewardship.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

‘Ecodaredevils' Award honors those who stand up for environment

By Nick Gevock of The Montana Standard - 09/19/2009

Kathleen Kennedy was admonished by her own school board for showing "The Story of Stuff," a film about the environmental costs of rampant consumerism, but the biology teacher persisted.

The teacher from Big Sky High School in Missoula held firm and showed the film, saying it delivered an important message and cited its examples with good sources.

"As a teacher of high school students, I have to do something to get their attention," Kennedy said Friday at Montana Tech. "This (film) does a great job of putting things we buy in the context of a greater system." Such resolve is exactly what J. Nichols, a sea turtle researcher and conservationist, had in mind last year when he helped found the "ecodaredevil" awards. Nichols on Friday presented this year's awards to Kennedy and Katie Makarowski, an aquatic biologist working to conserve and restore rivers and streams.

Nichols was among the first researchers to prove that sea turtles migrate from the coast off of Japan to the west coasts of North and South America. He has authored dozens of scientific papers and book chapters and for years has worked on sea turtle and ocean conservation and restoration. His work has taken him to Mexico, Indonesia and along the West Coast, among other places.

Nichols said his inspiration for the award was his childhood heroes — Jacque Cousteau and Evel Knievel. While the two seem an odd mix, Cousteau spurred Nichols' interest in the oceans and inspired him to earn a doctorate degree in wildlife ecology and evolutionary biology.

Yet Knievel, it's little known, was a conservationist as well. He once hitchhiked with a bull elk rack from Montana to Washington, D.C., to draw attention to the culling of elk in Yellowstone National Park, an act that got him a meeting with officials.

"Would anybody classify Evel as an environmentalist and a conservationist — absolutely not," said Matt Vincent, director of the Butte-based Clark Fork Watershed Education Program and an Ecodaredevil award sponsor.

Nichols said growing up he emulated Knievel. He and his friends were always taking jumps on their bicycles and mimicking other stunts from the famous daredevil.

But he took a lot of lessons from Knievel beyond trying dangerous feats. Most of all, Nichols took away that everybody fails at times.

That's not a reason to quit, he said. In fact, he said every successful person has failed and yet learned from it to achieve great things. Nichols said that's a lesson people working to protect the environment need to take from conservationists such as Kennedy, Makarowski, one that Knievel always illustrated throughout his career.

"You undoubtedly will experience that burning, biting feeling that Evel Knievel did when he didn't land the jump, seeing places where you loved to spend time destroyed," he said. "But if you don't get back up, then we all lose, the planet loses." Reporter Nick Gevock may be reached at nick.gevock@mtstandard.com.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

CBS News: EcoDaredevil Awards to be presented in Butte

Two Montana women are being honored with an award that recognizes ingenuity and courage in the area of environmental action and science.

The EcoDaredevil Award was founded by Dr. Wallace J. Nichols and inspired by Butte native Evel Knievel. This year the award will be presented in the Copper Lounge of the Student Union Building at Montana Tech at noon on Friday, Sept. 18.

Katie Makarowski, an aquatic biologist, sustainability advocate and a recent graduate of the University of Montana's Masters of Science in Environmental Studies program, and Kathleen Kennedy, a teacher at Big Sky High School in Missoula, will be honored at the event.

Read more HERE

2009 EcoDaredevil Award Sponsors

Thank you to all the sponsors of the 2009 EcoDaredevil Awards!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Big Sky teacher who showed 'Story of Stuff' earns EcoDareDevil Award

By MICHAEL MOORE of the Missoulian | Posted: Friday, September 11, 2009

By the time the dust settled on the so-called "Story of Stuff" debate, Big Sky High School teacher Kathleen Kennedy wasn't sure she wanted to teach any more.

But as the teaching community, University of Montana professors and much of Missoula rallied to her defense, Kennedy found herself revitalized and ready again for the classroom.
"I realized that there's nothing short of our future at stake, and I knew I had a role to play in that," she said Friday.

Her performance in that role has now earned her a national honor from an environmental group that has fashioned its award after another well-known Montanan, Evel Knievel.

It's called the EcoDareDevil Award, and Kennedy will receive it next Friday in Butte, Knievel's hometown, in a ceremony at Montana Tech. That's World Water Monitoring Day, which makes sense given that the award is bestowed by a group called Ocean Revolution.

"I just see winning the award as another way to talk about the importance of us paying attention to what's going on in the world," Kennedy said. "That's what motivates me, the chance to inspire people to not be complacent about the issues we're facing as a society."

That said, Kennedy doesn't see herself as a daredevil. She's a teacher. That means putting serious issues on the table, then helping students understand them and put them in context.

"A lot of people don't understand what public education is all about, and what teachers go through to teach things that are true," she said. "In terms of science, there are things that are true and there are things that are political. We somehow have to keep teaching the things that are true, even when it's hard."

That's what Kennedy had in mind in the fall of 2008 when she showed a video called "The Story of Stuff" to her biology class.

The video is a pointed critique of American consumerism and its role in the production of waste and climate change.

One of Kennedy's students told her father about the video, and he complained to Big Sky officials, saying Kennedy should have offered a balanced perspective to what he viewed as a liberal broadside.

That complaint eventually made its way to the Missoula County Public Schools trustees, who in a decision that was broadly criticized, decided that Kennedy violated board policy concerning the teaching of controversial issues.

That policy, which was both vague and murky, was eventually rewritten by a community group chosen by Superintendent Alex Apostle.

The community's overall response to the board decision heartened Kennedy, even as she faced the occasional criticism.

"It was pretty unpleasant at times, but I think over time that I realized that I needed to be out there fighting this fight," Kennedy said. "We have to have people who will stand out there and not fear the repercussions. Maybe that's the daredevil part of this thing."

Kennedy's fellow teacher, Kate Lindner, and a former student nominated her for the award, and University of Montana biology professor Erick Greene wrote a letter on her behalf.

"Kathleen served as a lightning rod on these important issues of being able to raise and discuss important and contentious environmental issues," Greene wrote in his letter.

Being that lightning rod had its downside for a while, but Kennedy's energy for teaching is now renewed.

"I'm really excited to be part of the discussion we're having with kids about how to solve the problems that face us," she said. "We need to get busy."

Reporter Michael Moore can be reached at 523-5252 or by e-mail at mmoore@missoulian.com.

2009 EcoDaredevil Awards: More Water, Less Stuff!

For Immediate Release
14 September 2009

Media Contact:

Justin Ringsak

Clark Fork Watershed Education Program (CFWEP)

Public Education & Communications Coordinator

Montana Tech Department of Technical Outreach

1300 West Park Street, Butte, MT 59701

(406) 496-4897; (406) 491-0922

jringsak@mtech.edu

www.cfwep.org


WHAT: 2009 EcoDaredevil Awards (www.ecodaredevil.com)

WHEN: Friday, September 18th at 12:00 noon (coincides with World Water Monitoring Day, an international outreach program that in 2008 had over 70,000 people in over 70 countries monitor water quality near their hometowns)

WHERE: in the Copper Lounge of the Student Union Building at Montana Tech of the University of Montana, Butte, MT

Come meet the 2009 EcoDaredevil Award recipients, Kathryn (Katie) Makarowski and Kathleen Kennedy (bios follow).

The first annual EcoDaredevil Award was presented on Earth Day 2008 by Dr. Wallace J. Nichols to Duke University doctoral student Elliott Hazen. An honorary award was also presented to Krysten Knievel, granddaughter of Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel in recognition of Evel's inspiration for the EcoDaredevil Award. Mr. Hazen was one of the co-founders of GreenWave, a student-led sustainability movement at the Duke Marine Lab. He also instituted a Green by Design class at the Marine Lab bringing in all sorts of experts from business, fisheries etc. to come and share visionary ideas about sustainability.

This year we will honor two EcoDaredevils from the legendary Evel Knievel's home state of Montana, with an award presentation on the campus of Montana Tech.

The 2009 award winner was chosen by a selection committee of nationally and regionally recognized environmental scientists/ activists who reviewed all nominations.

The 2009 EcoDaredevil Award will be presented in a ceremony at Montana Tech on Friday, September 18th on World Water Monitoring Day, an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local water bodies.

Bios of 2009 EcoDaredevil Awardees:

Kathryn (Katie) Makarowski is an aquatic biologist, sustainability advocate and a recent graduate of the University of Montana’s Masters of Science in Environmental Studies program. Her advisors and peers describe her as innovative, courageous, determined and exceptionally effective in her work to sustain and restore our nation’s rivers, watersheds and fresh water ecosystems. One recommender commented that “Katie used a combination of politeness, persuasion and persistence” to get the job done on behalf of Montana’s environmental future. “Many students would give up when single, let alone multiple requests were ignored. Katie, however, was undaunted. She simply wore ‘em down with her charm and directness. She had the drive to do whatever it took that was ethical and civil!” Another colleague says “there is a greater purpose to everything Katie does…she embodies exactly the qualities this award aims to recognize: not afraid to speak out, but also genuinely amiable, driven, and accomplished – exactly the kind of person needed to spark environmental change.” Still another reviewer says of Katie: “She has no car, eats low on the food chain, reuses/recycles everything, and all with a smile. She joyfully lives life large on a tiny ecological footprint. An exceptional act of courage in our consumptive society.” Her passion for and commitment to our planet have attracted uncountable numbers of others to follow in her path. See Katie in action here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MbYiJsRVhE

Kathleen Kennedy of Big Sky High School in Missoula, MT is an educator through and through, loved by students and teachers alike. In her Wildlife Biology class she challenges students to think beyond the textbooks and critically consider the environmental costs associated with the status quo. For her efforts raising awareness of important and contentious environmental issues, in particular, screening the award-winning short documentary “The Story of Stuff” by Annie Leonard (viewed more than 7 million times online), she received many bitter personal attacks, felt abandoned and betrayed by the school system and considered quitting teaching. The debate and associated controversy reached the NY Times and filled many pages in local newspapers. But Kathleen, to the delight of many, has recommitted herself to teaching. As a result of this, she has attended many conferences and workshops on how to teach about environmental issues in an honest and fair way and her work has stimulated important discussions about academic freedoms. In the face of great adversity, Kathleen has stood her ground and emerged as a stronger and better teacher. The kind of teacher that will lead the next generation into a more sustainable future. http://www.storyofstuff.com/

Dr. Wallace "J." Nichols is a scientist, activist, community organizer, author, and dad. He works to inspire a deeper connection with nature, sometimes simply by walking and talking, other times through writing or images. Science and knowledge can also stoke our fires. But he knows that what really moves people is feeling part of and touching something bigger than ourselves. J. is a Research Associate at California Academy of Sciences and founder/co-director of Ocean Revolution, an international network of young ocean advocates, and co-founder of SEE Turtles, a sea turtle conservation tourism project. He earned his MEM in Environmental Policy and Economics from Duke University's Nicholas School and his PhD in Wildlife Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from University of Arizona. Blog: www.wallacejnichols.org



OpEd: We're All EcoDaredevils Now

(Wallace J. Nichols)

On October 17, 1938 Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel was born in Butte, Montana.

Following his sophomore year in high school he got a job in Anaconda's copper mines as a diamond drill operator then as driver of a large earth mover. As the legend goes, Knievel was fired when he did a motorcycle-type wheelie on the earth mover and drove it into Butte's main power line, leaving the city without electricity for several hours.

After stints in rodeo, ski jumping, the army, semi-pro hockey, back-country guiding and insurance sales he settled into a career as a professional Daredevil.

Hundreds of jumps and dozens of spectacular crashes later, on February 28, 1971 he set a new world record by jumping 19 cars with his Harley-Davidson XR-750.

Such is the colorful mix of reality and legend spanning Knievel's life. He took his place in history as rock star, action hero, athlete and folk legend all in one. His death-defying jumps awed millions around the world.

But back in 1961, before he achieved worldwide fame, Knievel hitchhiked with the rack of a bull elk from Montana to our nation’s capital to protest the culling of elk in Yellowstone. The Kennedy administration responded and countless elk were saved.

While no one would argue Knievel's conservationist credentials, his fearlessness, grit and persistence were world class.

In the face of new, daunting challenges, his response was all action, full-speed, non-stop.

Today, we face ever more serious crises—loss of biodiversity, contaminated rivers and lakes, a warming planet, collapsing fisheries, looming food and water shortages, and a growing population that bodes for more of the same. Left to the status quo, scientists forecast a “2050 Scenario” in which our planet is hotter, dirtier, and overcrowded with nine billion people who are left to wage wars for what little remains.

Jumping this eco-chasm will be the greatest challenge we have ever faced. It will require revolutionary changes in society and technology.

To succeed, we must be brave, creative and outspoken. We must undertake the audacious, the impossible and the dangerous. We must risk our financial, social, and physical comfort. We must state the heretical, radical truths about our present situation. We must not be dissuaded, cajoled or convinced that our greenest dreams cannot become reality.

In other words, we must become EcoDaredevils.

Changing light bulbs, inflating tires, eating organic and toting reusable bags are each important gestures. But it’s going to take action far more thrilling to make it over this canyon. We must do something much bolder for the planet—something that invites personal risk.

It's not enough to leave the solutions to our most pressing environmental problems in the hands of the professionals, the experts or the government. That strategy will surely continue to fail.

The lack of adequate response to this deepening crisis means that we are all EcoDaredevils now. Like it or not.

They say that Evel Knievel broke every bone in his body at one time or another. But, he kept on jumping. His steely will kept driving him back to the bike and up the ramp.

This week in Butte, Montana we'll honor two exemplary EcoDaredevils for their work, persistence, and commitment to protecting our planet in the face of personal and professional risk.

Inspired by the spirit of Evel Knievel, motivated by our global ecological crisis and called to action by future generations. We are all EcoDaredevils now. Strap on your helmet, let's ride.

###

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

2009 EcoDaredevil Awards

WHAT: 2009 EcoDaredevil Awards

WHEN: Friday, September 18th at 12:00 noon (coincides with World Water Monitoring Day, an international outreach program that in 2008 had over 70,000 people in over 70 countries monitor water quality near their hometowns)

WHERE: in the Copper Lounge of the Student Union Building at Montana Tech of the University of Montana, Butte, MT

Come meet the 2009 EcoDaredevil Award recipients!

Friday, June 5, 2009

The 2009 EcoDaredevil Award: Call for Nominations

The first annual EcoDarevil Award was presented on Earth Day 2008 at Duke University in Durham, NC. On World Ocean Day, June 8th, 2009 we proudly announce our call for nominations for the second-annual EcoDaredevil Award. This year we will honor an EcoDaredevil from the legendary Evel Knievel's home state of Montana, with an award presentation on the campus of Montana Tech in September 2009. Nominations must be received by August 1, 2009. The 2009 Ecodaredevil winner will receive a cash award and other “green” prizes.

The first annual EcoDaredevil Award was presented to Duke doctoral student Elliott Hazen. An honorary award was also presented to Krysten Knievel, granddaughter of Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel in recognition of Evel's inspiration for the EcoDaredevil Award. Mr. Hazen was one of the co-founders of GreenWave, a student-led sustainability movement at the Duke Marine Lab. He also instituted a Green by Design class at the Marine Lab bringing in all sorts of experts from business, fisheries etc. to come and chat about sustainability.

The 2009 award winner will be chosen by 1) a selection committee of nationally and regionally recognized environmental scientists/ activists who will review all nominations; 2) peers via an on-line voting system. The 2009 EcoDaredevil Award will be announced in a ceremony at Montana Tech on Friday, September 18th on World Water Monitoring Day, an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local water bodies.

2009 Nominees must meet the following criteria:

- Be from the State of Montana;

- Age 18 to 35, or a recently (graduated this spring or enrolled for this fall) enrolled/graduated college (grad or undergrad) student;

-Has exceptionally fulfilled the core characteristics of what the Ecodaredevil Award signifies: courage, creativity and success (even failure if they’re back up and trying) in positively impacting environmental change through science, action, policy or the arts.

-Nominee must be nominated by a faculty member, researcher, student/ peer or other member of the local, regional, national or international environmental community.

-Please submit nominations via email to EcoDaredevil@me.com by August 1, 2009. Please include the following information in your nomination, electronic submissions only (sent to EcoDaredevil@me.com ):

• Name

• Age

• Location/hometown

• Year in school/college/major

• An explanation of why the nominee is an Ecodaredevil (maximum of three, single-spaced, 12-point font pages)

• At least two letters/emails of recommendation/support -- one from a faculty/teacher; one from a student/peer; and/or one from a member of the community (state, local or other).

• Supplements/supporting materials may include web links, articles, images of nominee's accomplishments

Entries will be judged upon 1) innovation/creativity of nominee's actions/accomplishments; 2) courage of nominee to perform in the face of adversity (i.e. difficulty of achievement exhibited by numbers, required time/timeliness, social/economic/political climate, etc.); 3) significance of nominee's impact on environmental change (sustainability and/or size of outcome(s); number of people affected, policies changed/implemented, honors received); 4) exceptional character exhibited by the nominee. [Note: In order to save your nomination, prepare the nomination with Word, pdf and submit as an attachment.]


The World Needs Some EcoDaredevils

By EcoDaredevil founder Wallace J. Nichols, PhD.

Back in the 1970s, many of us idolized Evel Knievel. He was a rock star, sports hero and folk legend in one. He was both a daredevil and a cool character. Back then, his jumps over buses, fountains and canyons inspired us to launch our bicycles into the air and over puddles, mounds of dirt and hapless friends.

Now, we find new inspiration in our childhood hero.

In 1961 Robert Craig Knievel, long before “Evel” became a household name, hitchhiked through the dead of winter from Butte to our nation’s capital to protest the culling of elk in Yellowstone National Park. He lugged the rack of a massive bull elk along as a gift. It dominated the White House office of Mike Manatos, assistant to John F. Kennedy.
The administration responded and many elk were saved via implementation of a transplant system.

Half a century later our country and our world face ever more serious environmental crises — loss of biodiversity, a warming planet, collapsing fisheries, looming food and water shortages for billions of people and the realization that our pollution has reached nearly every corner. Scientists forecast the 2050 Scenario as the convergence of a hotter, dirtier, more overcrowded Earth where nature will have been forgotten by most of the nine billion inhabitants who fight in violent wars for what’s left.

Jumping that chasm is the greatest challenge we have ever faced.
Waiting until later is foolish at best and disastrous at worst.

Solving the biggest problems we face will require the most revolutionarily of changes in society and technology, rather than incremental steps.

We must be brave, creative and outspoken enough to challenge the status quo in our respective industries, departments and neighborhoods. We must undertake the audacious, impossible and dangerous. We must risk financial, social and physical pain.

In other words, we must be EcoDaredevils.

EcoDaredevils are everywhere. They are musicians, inventors, investors, scientists, activists, engineers, students, artists and entrepreneurs. They are debating, creating, evolving — sometimes crashing — and always coming back for more.

Two Texas women cleaned up their beach and inspired the International Coastal Cleanup, a global volunteer movement a half a million strong. Virgin Atlantic billionaire Sir Richard Branson is greening the aviation industry. Feliciano dos Santos campaigns for clean water in Africa with powerful music. In San Francisco, architect Renzo Piano designed the giant new roof of the California Academy of Sciences as a native meadow with solar panels. In Mexico, WaterKeeper Julio Solis drag races in Baja fishing villages to raise awareness of the ocean crisis.

Changing our light bulbs, inflating our tires and bringing our own bags are all important. But let’s be clear: it’s going to take actions far more thrilling and substantive for us to make it over this canyon.

For some, speaking up boldly about energy efficiency at the office is a risky bet. For others it may be a massive transformation to “green” their household. Others may undertake bolder actions at higher stakes. The point is to do something for the planet that feels like risk and derring-do — to you.

They say that Evel Knievel broke many, many bones, many times. But he kept on jumping his motorcycle through the air. “A man can fall many times, but he’s never a failure unless he refuses to get up,” is chiseled on Knievel’s headstone. He represented a combination of steely will, toughness, creativity and tenacity that enthralled me as an eight year old and still does.

Look inside yourself and grab a hold of your inner EcoDaredevil. Strap on your helmet, your red, white and blue leathers, and let’s go for a ride.

Nominate an EcoDaredevil for our 2009 Award.

Friday, March 6, 2009

EcoDaredevil Leilani Named NWF Ambassador

EILANI NAMED FIRST AMBASSADOR OF NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION
Race Car Driver Becomes Conservation Activist

NWF Media Contact: Mary Burnette, Burnette@nwf.org

Leilani Münter's Management at Wasserman Media Group: Marissa Nilon mnilon@wmgllc.com, telephone 310-882-4745 and Dan Levy, dlevy@wmgllc.com, telephone 919-256-1600.

RESTON, VA - (March 5, 2009) Some may think that protecting the environment while racing cars is an oxymoron. But not for biology graduate turned race car driver Leilani Münter who is piloting a new Ambassador Program for the National Wildlife Federation. Munter has been racing professionally since 2001 and is on a mission to educate 100 million race car fans about the benefits of living a green lifestyle. At the same time she hopes her efforts will encourage racing sanctioning bodies to increase their environmental initiatives with expanded recycling programs and the use of alternative fuels.

The National Wildlife Federation has established the Ambassador Program because the organization’s leadership believes everyone can make a difference in protecting wildlife and conserving our natural resources. The National Wildlife Federation Ambassador program was created in 2008 to recognize and support high profile individuals who not only excel in their profession, but set an example for the rest of the world in terms of being a good steward of the environment.

Some individuals, like Münter, have stepped up and shown exemplary leadership toward helping the conservation group achieve its goals. The influence Münter has in the racing community and beyond allows her to reach out with credible environmental messages, especially those that relate to reducing carbon, carbon being the major culprit of global warming. In fact, Münter even has a web site called CarbonFreeGirl.com.

“Just because you’re green, doesn’t mean you can’t be fast,” says Münter. “I’m simply bringing my world as a race car driver and environmentalist together.”

Münter is committed to reducing her personal carbon footprint in a variety of ways. She adopts and protects an acre of rainforest for every race she runs to offset her carbon footprint and has been a long time vegetarian and eco activist. She is politically active in the fight for climate legislation and has made several trips to Capitol Hill to speak with Congress on behalf of climate issues. In June 2008 she spoke at a Climate Action Rally on the steps of Capitol Hill alongside Senators Barbara Boxer, Joe Lieberman, and John Kerry.

In 2004 Münter gained the attention of the racing world when she qualified 4th and finished 7th at Texas Motor Speedway in the ROMCO Super Late Model Series. Texas would turn out to be one of Münter’s favorite tracks. She returned to Texas Motor Speedway in 2006 and set a new record when she finished 4th, the highest finish for a female driver in the history of the racetrack. By December 2006 Leilani had raced her way from the short tracks of southern California all the way to the most iconic NASCAR track of them all, the high banks of Daytona International Speedway. She completed her rookie ARCA test at Daytona and even though she was with a small underfunded team, she was 24th out of 57 race cars testing at Daytona.

In 2007 Leilani became the fourth woman in history to race in the Indy Pro Series, the developmental league of IndyCar. She impressed the open wheel racing world when she qualified 5th for her debut. Leilani was running in the top six when a multi car accident took her out of the race.

Münter realizes that being a race car driver involves her in a sport that is not environmentally friendly. That is why she is doing everything she can to reduce her carbon footprint such as using renewable energy, recycling, and adopting tropical rainforest for every race she runs. She believes as citizens of Earth, we all need to work together to take care of our world.

“The situation is dire and requires our urgent attention. Now is the time to make a change. We need to reduce our use of fossil fuels, commit ourselves to renewable energy sources, and conserve the biodiversity that we have on Earth before it is lost forever.”

Münter feels it is an honor and a privilege to serve as a National Wildlife Ambassador. She is looking forward to working with the organization to reach millions of racing fans and others with her message about protecting the world’s natural resources.

“The National Wildlife Federation is grateful to Ms. Münter for her assistance in spreading the word about the importance of reducing our nation’s carbon footprint,”said Larry Schweiger, President of the National Wildlife Federation. “As our first Ambassador, Ms. Münter will serve as a role model for others who have the capacity to reach others with their words and their actions.”

The National Wildlife Federation inspires Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future.