Muir Yosemite Ramble Trip Gains Notable Supporters

Going Muir’s Way” travel for visitors to Yosemite National Park is gaining notable supporters and renewed calls to name “John Muir Highway” to honor Muir’s legacy in 2014, the 100th Anniversary of his death.  Muir scholars and guests from the University of the Pacific’s Muir Symposium field trip (3/21/14) now are sharing their praise of following firsthand the route of Muir’s1868 walk to Yosemite.

The John Muir Geotourism Center ( JMGC – Coulterville, CA) hosted the guided itinerary bus tour on CA State Route 132 using Muir’s journals entries from “My First Summer in the Sierra” and  referencing still visible natural and cultural heritage landmarks (Muir Ramble Route).  Read more:

Greeley Hill Students win “Most Collaborative Film” designation at Youth Film Contest in Yosemite National Park, Saturday, March 1, 2014.

Yosemite National Park in partnership with the Ansel Adams Gallery presented the Youth In Yosemite Short Film Contest in coordination with the esteemed “Range of Light” adult film contest- “A Celebration of Yosemite Through Film.” The youth contest was so well received declared one park ranger excitedly at the conclusion of the contest, that she said, “I’m excited, an Arts Institute in San Francisco is discussing the possibility of another showing of these films, there.” The enthusiastic audience appreciatively applauded and all seemed to agree that the youth film contest should become an annual event. Read more

JMGC  Elects New Board President & Welcomes New Member

Organization Changes to Insure a Sustainable Future

Coulterville, March 1, 2014, Coulterville, CA.  At the January 25, 2014 Board of Directors meeting, which also marked the 2nd year anniversary of the John Muir Geotourism Center (JMGC), board officers were elected and a new board member was installed. The JMGC was founded in January of 2012 with the goal of creating a non-profit organization to honor the legacy of John Muir while developing geotourism to enrich and preserve the rural culture along what is now named the John Muir Historic Route.  The JMGC has created special programs for youth and adults to explore, learn, share, and preserve the areas along the route of John Muir’s 1868 walk to Yosemite.  This walk was immortalized in his journal My First Summer in the Sierra.

Leaving the presidency is MaryAnn Huff after a two year term in the position during which she helped the organization grow and move into the Center’s current location in the historic Gazzolo Hardware Store building in Coulterville.   The organization is thankful for her work helping the JMGC gain visibility with Mariposa County business and tourism organizations, and wish her all the best as she shifts her energies into serving other regional needs.  Replacing her by unanimous vote of the Board is Monty Thornburg, Ph.D., leader/teacher for the Coulterville High School. He has assumed the presidency for a two-year term.monty

With the future in mind, Monty told us, “I am looking forward to leading the organization to a sustainable level both financially and through increased tourism visitation and volunteer participation.” He sees a bright future for JMGC and is “very encouraged by the new board expertise and expanding programs built upon the successful tests from previous years.”

Joining him in that effort is new board member Ray Winter, Ph.D., a lecturer in literature at UC Merced, whose dissertation (The California Dream: A Dangerous Social and Environmental Myth Protested By John Muir and John Steinbeck) focused on Muir’s text My First Summer in the Sierra. Ray brings high energy, organization skills and great ideas for educational programs that he is already designing, as well as a new link to the Merced campus and community.R..Winter

The other board officers were reelected to their positions: Laurie Byer, Treasurer; Karen Wilson, Secretary (as well as Center Curator); and Teri Graf-Pulvino, Vice President.

Dr. William Swagerty, Professor and Head of the John Muir Center at University of the Pacific in Stockton, has relinquished his board position after two years due to increased academic duties. However, he has joined the Advisory Board with Robert Hanna- John Muir’s great-great grandson, and Ken Pulvino.  The board is pleased to continue to have Dr. Swagerty as a valuable link to the University and as a Muir resource.


As part of the present strategy to maintain fiscal sustainability, the Board also decided to temporarily stop daily operations/hours at the Center, and restructure its Executive Director position. Debbie Cook, outgoing Executive Director, worked very hard for the JMGC on various foundational projects, visibility, organizing the annual festivals, and as an energetic JMGC cheerleader in 2012 and 2013. The Board is grateful for her service and is fortunate to have her continued presence as a community advocate for the Center. Future programs and projects will be managed by board members, current & new, and volunteers on an ad hoc basis.

2014 will bring new challenges and dynamic programs, including the 5th Annual John Muir Festival with the theme “Nature Hikes Heal Body & Soul: Stories from John Muir 1868 to Warrior Hike 2014.”  The reach will be to hikers, nature lovers and military in California and the west.

The Center will reopen on Saturday, March 8 with an open board meeting at 3 pm with refreshments at conclusion.

Visit the website for news and program information; call 209-878-3501 or email

John Muir Appeared at the Ken Burns Film Screening

February 15 & 16, 2014  Lee Stetson, well known for his Muir portrayal in “Our National Parks,” shared quotes of John Muir’s wisdom at San Francisco’s screening of Ken Burns “Yosemite: A Gathering of Spirits.”  It was all part of the festivities at the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park to engage the senses and love of nature while offering movie-goers a chance to be involved with the environmental action movement John Muir helped create.  Read more

JMGC at the Spirit of Yosemite Festival

Join us for a special occasion commemorating the 150th anniversary of the monumental declaration by Abraham Lincoln to protect the majestic area known as Yosemite National Park.  The Spirit of Yosemite Festival will be at The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Saturday, February 15 and Sunday, February 16 starting at 11:30am
John Muir (Lee Stetson) will be portraying John Muir in the JMGC Exhibit area.

Film Overview: Yosemite Conservancy partnered with documentary film makers Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan to produce the film “Yosemite: A Gathering of Spirit.”   The film celebrates the landmark federal legislation signed by Abraham Lincoln that preserved Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. This act, the first time a government set aside land for public use and enjoyment, gave birth to the national park idea.


Fun November Workshops at John Muir Geotourism Center

Geotourism Center Workshops Inspire

There is always something to learn, something to share, and something to take away from the experience. The John Muir Geotourism enjoys providing the opportunity for one to do just that. Here are the highlights of November workshops.

The holiday card workshop led by Jim Leitzell of Dawn & Jim’s Art Farm was great fun. I participated in the workshop and it was amazing to me what you could create with scraps of paper. cardworkshopfotoI learned that even the smallest piece can be used to embellish your masterpiece. A few cards are on display at the center. Stop by and check it out. You can also visit the art farm website at

One might wonder what CPR and first-aid have to do with the John Muir? Well, there is always a connection to something if you look for it. Karen Wilson, Secretary to the JMGC board of directors is a certified instructor and is passionate about teaching CPR and first-aid. Attendees for this class came from the forest service along with a few residents that live in very rural areas where they must rely on themselves in emergency situations. And, because of Karen’s efforts, eight more people are now capable of administering first-aid and CPR. So, what do CPR and Muir have to do with each other? CPR save lives, John Muir saved our national parks. Both are indeed very worthy causes.

CPR Workshop

Something Muir practically invented was field sketching. November brought the second field sketching workshop to the Center and it was even more successful than the first. A joy to see was a six and a half year old, as he shared with us, who came to participate with his dad. Also in attendance were two University of California Merced colleagues that shared they were brushing up on their skills before piloting a fieldwork-intensive nature writing course they will be teaching in the spring. A total of eight students came in eager to learn and experiment with their new skills. Karen Wilson led the workshop and shares that each time she is able to help someone to ‘get it’, is such a reward. Sketch Workshop

More workshops will be scheduled in the future. If you have a subject you would like us to have a workshop for or are interested in leading a workshop, please contact Debbie Cook at You can also visit our website and sign up for our newsletter to be included in all the happenings at the Center by visiting

First Workshop: Field Sketching

On Saturday, August 17 the John Muir Geotourism Center held its first sketching workshop entitled “Field Sketching Along the Trail with John Muir.” Workshop leader, Karen Wilson shared that when John Muir journaled, he didn’t take a lot of time for detail. He would quickly sketch what he saw, perhaps wrote a few descriptive notes, then later researched to identify objects such as trees, flowers, etc.

With this in mind Karen shared a few techniques that can be used to quickly sketch an object. To my amazement, it works! A little bit of air sketching, squinting and putting pencil to paper and you can quickly draw any object. And, I might add, one can actually tell what it is!

Field Sketching

Peggy Andrews shared; “Great class all levels will enjoy. Karen is a super teacher.” Christina Hansen was amazed! “I so enjoyed learning about field sketching. What wonderful perspectives and techniques.” Thank you Karen, it was so much fun.

Future classes to be scheduled. A great way to keep in the John Muir loop is to register to receive our e-newsletter. Click here to sign up today.

4th Annual John Muir Festival Celebrates Naturalist’s Legacy

Looking for a great family-friendly day of play? Come to Coulterville Park for the 4th Annual John Muir Festival, Saturday, June 8, 10 – 5 pm. Meet new friends and share Muir experiences! Read more

May 13th… John Muir Geotourism Center Youth Camp Shares Muir Experience

Coulterville, CA May 7, 2013 – John Muir Geotourism Center (JMGC), is pleased to announce ‘Muir Experience’, the first among many programs the center will offer.

Taking place at Diamond in the Pines Recreational Facility, Greeley Hill, CA, the pilot ‘Muir Experience’ youth camp is scheduled for May 13 through 16, 2013. Brady Gill, Youth Education Program Manager shares, “The program will not only explore Muir’s life and contributions, but we will begin to understand how he (Muir) experienced the natural world and discover how we can relate that to our own experiences.” Read more here…


John Muir Geotourism Center Open House

John Muir Geotourism Center

John Muir Geotourism Center

Coulterville, CA, April  20, 2014:  The John Muir Geotoursim Center official ribbon cutting and open house took place at 5016 Main Street, Coulterville on Saturday, April 20, 2013 from 1 – 4 p.m.

It’s Here! After several years of hard work and planning, a highway dedication for the Historic John Muir Route in 2010 and three John Muir Festivals, the John Muir Geotourism Center (JMGC) is now open and receiving visitors! JMGC honors the legacy of Muir while sharing the nature, culture and activities that Coulterville in the Sierra Nevada foothills has to offer.

The Historic Gazzolo building located at 5016 Main Street in Coulterville is the new home of the Center. To celebrate this historic occasion, the JMGC Board of Directors hosted the celebration for the opening of the center and John Muir’s birthday.

Muir was born on April 21, 1838, however, to allow for those traveling from afar, the event was scheduled for Saturday, April 20 from 1 to 4 p.m. As with all birthday parties, cake and refreshments were served. A good time was had by all.

John Muir Geotourism Center visits UOP

February 27, 2013, Coulterville, CA– The John Muir Geotourism Center (JMGC) spent the afternoon as guests of William Swagerty, Professor and Director of the John Muir Center at the University of the Pacific (UOP) in Stockton. The John Muir Center promotes the study of John Muir and environmentalism at the University of the Pacific and beyond. As one of California’s most important historical figures, John Muir (1838-1914) was a regional naturalist with global impact. His papers, housed in the library’s Holt-Atherton Special Collections are among the University’s most important resources for scholarly research.

Recognizing the need both to encourage greater utilization of the John Muir Papers by the scholarly community, and the need to promote the study of California and its impact upon the global community, the John Muir Center was established in 1989 with the following objectives:

To foster a closer academic relationship between Pacific and the larger community of scholars, students and citizens interested in regional and environmental studies.

To provide greater opportunities for research and publication by Pacific faculty and students.

To offer opportunities for out-of-classroom learning experiences.

To promote multi-disciplinary curricular development.

Explore the website to learn more about the resources and programs offered by the John Muir Center.


John Muir Geotourism Center Elects New Board of Directors Members

January 19, 2013, Coulterville, CA—The first annual John Muir Geotourism Center (JMGC) Board of Directors meeting took place on Saturday, January 19th. Our thanks to the Historic Hotel Jeffery for hosting the meeting. Though this was the first official meeting, business was conducted in a timely manner with a focus was on elections and bringing the new board up to speed.

MaryAnn Huff, President shared a PowerPoint history of the center, accomplishments for 2012 and goals for 2013. New Youth Education Program Manager, Brady Gill talked about plans for the 2013 pilot camp. Executive Director, Debbie Cook and Consultant Miguel Maldonado presented the 2013 Project Management Calendar for 2013 and a review of board binders.

Elections completed, the new membership for 2013-2014 is as follows: MaryAnn Huff, President, Teri Graf-Pulvino, Vice President, Laurie Byer, Treasurer, Karen Wilson, Secretary, Bill Swagerty, Director, Kevin Carson, Director, Jaime Collins, Director and Veronica Buenrostro, Director. Staff for 2013 consist of the following: Debbie Cook, Executive Director, Miguel Maldonado, Consultant and Brady Gill, Youth Education Program Manager.

After the general meeting, MaryAnn led the group on a tour of Coulterville ending at the new center that will open in February. Shortly after the tour, networking began as new and old members shared their backgrounds and thoughts about things in the works and things to come.<

Memberships are welcome and sponsorships for the upcoming festival and education program are being accepted. Visit for more information or contact Debbie Cook at (209) 878-3227.

John Muir Schootcher Coming Soon for Young Nature Lovers!

Youth Education Program to Share John Muir’s Legacy and Expand Nature Appreciation

December 17, 2012, Coulterville, CA—The vision expands! The John Muir Geotourisim Center has hired an expert at creating youth summer programs. With a grant to JMGC from the Graf-Pulvino Family Fund, JMGC will create a John Muir educational experience for youth. Brady Gill, Youth Program Consultant, has begun the planning process to create a unique and fulfilling program. The focus will be: How did John Muir see and experience his environment, analyze it and write about it? What can be learned from that hike he took so many years ago? Read more here…

Third Annual John Muir Festival Brings First 35 New Members



Muir and Nature Lovers and Followers Have New Website Resource to Connect and Enjoy Muir’s History in the Sierra Nevada

October 29, 2012, Coulterville, CA—John Muir Geotourism Center (JMGC) announces the launch of the redesigned JohnMuir.US website. The new website provides easy access and navigation, including for mobile devices, to articles, partner websites and information about the John Muir Historic Route, named in 2010. Web visitors will learn about the personalities who have hiked it, biked it, traveled it and then written about it in magazine articles and books. MaryAnn Huff, President of the Board of Directors described the website as, “Honoring the John Muir legacy and achieving the goal of bringing his historical 1868 walk to Yosemite alive for modern visitors and families.”

“Whether you are a family traveling to the Yosemite valley, a cyclist or motorcyclist looking for a stress-free route, or a Muir nature lover, this new site points to many of the glorious facets of following his route and activities that celebrate education, conservation and fun,” said Debbie Cook. Debbie is the energetic Co-Executive Director of the John Muir Geotourism Center and Honorary Mayor of the town of Coulterville, CA the home of the JMGC. JMGC hired Breakthru Communications of Corrales, NM to do the design work, offering a new design concept to tell their story. JMGC had outgrown the original site and is moving to the next level of growth.

Website visitors will find founding facts, peruse past festival photos, learn of new and future events, become a member of the John Muir Geotourism Center, including special “Schootcher” level memberships, buy the colorful “All Things Muir” t-shirts and read the new JMGC Blog entries. For more information see

About JMGC

The John Muir Geotourism Center, a nonprofit organization, was founded in January of 2012. It is dedicated to honoring the legacy of John Muir’s contributions to U.S. and global conservation awareness and his scientific observations, love of nature and adventure. Launched to support and enlarge upon the John Muir Historic Route (J132) in 2010, the Center is committed to sharing this rich heritage through events, including the annual John Muir Festival, education programs, and nature and hiking programs with people of all ages. The organization headquartered in Coulterville, CA.

Press contact:

Debbie Cook


John Muir Geotourism Center Visits Yosemite

Coulterville, Calif. September 13, 2012 – Thirty delighted Yosemite visitors came to hear about Geotourism, John Muir and the Historic John Muir Route in Coulterville. Invited by Bonnie Gisel, curator for the LeConte Memorial Lodge in Yosemite National Park, MaryAnn Huff, President, Debbie Cook, Co-Executive Director and Miguel Maldonado, Co-Executive Director of the John Muir Geotourism Center, shared the “All Things Muir” mission and vision of the center and the dream to have visitors from all over the world come to Coulterville to play in nature. The opportunity to learn about and visit actual locations that Muir journaled about when he traveled through the area is reason enough to make the trip to this lightly touched foothill town, but the added bonus is that it remains pretty much the same as it was in the 1800’s. Exploring the area’s lakes, rivers, creeks, from the foothills to the mountains and getting back in touch with nature, is what it’s all about.

Gifts of a journal and a carved wooden pencil were given to each attendee along with a request to journal their Yosemite experience. Explaining how one feels when touched by nature was easy when Yosemite visitors were asked to share one experience for their journals. Descriptions such as the shadows on Half-dome, the blue of the sky, floating down the river, the brightness of the stars at night, seeing a bear… were just a few of the nature stories shared. All agreed that when you stop traditional thinking is when you begin feeling nature in the truest sense.

If you are interested in hosting a talk on the John Muir Geotourism Center mission and activities, please contact Debbie Cook at

Out of Town Visitors Love Fireside Chat

Coulterville, Calif. August 19, 2012 – John Muir and Coulterville history were enlivened at August’s Fireside Chat at the Northern Mariposa County History Center by MaryAnn Huff, President of the John Muir Geotourism Center and Helen Bauman Director on the board of the Northern Mariposa County History Center. Visitors touring the area were curious to know more about the Young John Muir and his trip. The two active locals share the history of his trip through LaGrange, Coulterville and Greeley Mill ” Hill” with his herd of sheep in route to his beloved Yosemite back in 1869.

Listeners were surprised to hear Coulterville family stories shared by Mrs. Bauman about Muir’s walk through the Foothills, sharing how he and his sheep wreaked havoc and strong feelings against Muir and his herd as they traveled through what is now known as the Historic John Muir route (HWY J132). The attitude expressed by Mrs. Bauman’s ancestors and other local families was believed for just reason at the time, but nowadays, Helen explained that current descendants appreciate the legacy John Muir has given us, saying, “Now it’s up to the John Muir Geotourism Center to pass the knowledge forward.”

MaryAnn Huff shared the definition of Geotourism with heartfelt passion, what it is and how she has become a “geotraveler”, as well as the mission and the vision of the John Muir Geotourism Center in Coulterville. MaryAnn finished by calling the group to action by inviting them to come and spend time to explore, learn, share and help preserve the values of the John Muir legacy.

Visit to see how you can be connected to the world or call 209-878-3501.

Youth Education Advisory Group Meets

Coulterville, Calif. August 18, 2012 – The John Muir Geotourism Center (JMGC) Youth Education Advisory Group met for the first time in August. These special members and their wisdom will provide a set of unique guidelines for the upcoming Youth Education Program. In a few months, the set of guidelines will become a Request for Proposal (RFP) allowing specific experts to apply for seed money through a donation from the Graf-Pulvino Family Fund.
The final program will be developed to provide an “All Things Muir” experience that addresses all aspects of the life and legacy of John Muir. From academic study to hands-on activities that include a one-day field trip geared toward elementary school students. This experience will provide life-long memories and instill a sense of respect to preserve our natural wonders.

The group will again meet in September to begin outlining goals and expectations, as well as developing partnerships with organization and professionals that will serve the mission and vision of the John Muir Geotourism Center. If you have ideas or questions, please contact Debbie Cook, Executive Director, at

JMGC Awarded Non-Profit Status, Readies Fundraising Activities

Coulterville, Calif. July 31, 2012 – The John Muir Geotourism Center, Inc. received its final IRS exemption as a 501 [c] [3] and the Public Charity Status as 170 I(b) (1) (A) (vi) effective retroactively to January 6, 2012, date of incorporation in California. The formal acknowledgement arrived sooner than expected, and the organization is preparing to launch new fundraising and membership drive programs in the 4th quarter of 2012. MaryAnn Huff, Board President, was surprised and delighted at the early notification, “This is great news. It will help us kickoff some of the exciting plans we have for the Center by the end of this year.” A key fundraising goal is to acquire an historic building in Coulterville as the hub for activities and education programs. Anyone wishing information about donation opportunities should contact MaryAnn Huff at