Robert Vessels

Rob is a conservationist, a climber, and a veteran. Rob currently leads the Sierra Club’s Military Outdoors program, which connects 14,000 service members, veterans, and their families to the outdoors each year through outings and outdoor leadership training. He recently relocated to Washington, DC, in hopes of fostering a new generation of environmental stewards by providing veterans with the proper tools and knowledge to leverage their unique voice in defense of America’s public lands. Prior to that, Rob served five years in the Army as an infantryman with the 10th Mountain Division, during which time he deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon returning home, Rob moved to California, where he used the state’s many wild landscapes and a close-knit community of fellow veterans to cope with struggles with PTS and adjustment into society. In his spare time, Rob enjoys explaining that, despite his height, he doesn’t play basketball.

“As a veteran who is also a conservationist, my goal is to bridge the gap between both communities. In my experience, it can be challenging to engage both groups in order to bring them together in the fight to protect public lands: both parties can be hesitant to interact with each other and don’t see the history and synergy between the two communities. In recruiting for trips, it takes some persuading to get veterans or members of the military excited to participate in a Sierra Club event. Likewise, I have been challenged on several occasions by Sierra Club volunteers who are hesitant to work with the military community.”

Robert is a member of the 2017 Emerging Leaders Program.

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