John Muir in the New World

John Muir (portrayed by Howard Weamer) in Yosemite
Photo by Bob Roney
© Global Village Media

About the documentary:

Preservationist, naturalist, author, explorer, activist, scientist, farmer – John Muir was all these things and more. Nearly a century after his death, this Scottish American is remembered and revered as the father of the environmental movement and the founder of the Sierra Club, the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States.

A lover and champion of the American wilderness, Muir believed that it was our responsibility as citizens to protect our natural surroundings. Through his tireless advocacy and his writings, Muir helped preserve the Yosemite Valley, led the fight against the Hetch Hetchy dam – the first nationwide battle of the environmental movement – and was the force behind the creation of the National Park Service. John Muir in the New World explores the influence of his Calvinist father, Daniel; the writings of Alexander von Humboldt and Ralph Waldo Emerson; his friend and mentor Jeanne Carr; marriage to Louie Strentzel; and friendship and work for Robert Underwood Johnson, editor of The Century Magazine; to illustrate how Muir developed his ideas about nature and became a respected scientist, writer and “publicist for nature.”

Using re-enactments shot in high definition throughout the majestic landscapes he visited – Wisconsin, Yosemite & the Sierra Nevada, the Alhambra Valley of California, and the glaciers of Alaska – this 90-minute documentary delves into Muir’s life and influences, explaining his impact then and now, and is a timely reminder of America’s unique and threatened eco-systems.


Watch the full episode. See more American Masters.

When & where:

John Muir in the New World aired nationally Monday, April 18, 2011 on PBS in celebration of Earth Day (4/22) and John Muir Day (4/21), as part of American Master's 25th Anniversary Season.

The task:

Spring 2011 – Kristin was hired to create and manage a strategy for a national educational package targeted to kids to extend the film's impact "beyond broadcast."

The results:

After much research into ideas & options, an extremely successful partnership was established with the Children & Nature Network, a nonprofit created to encourage and support people and organizations working nationally and internationally to reconnect children with nature. Co-founded by Rich Louv, recipient of the 2008 Audubon Medal and author of a number of books, including "Last Child in the Woods," Louv is well known for his observation that too many children suffer from what he calls a "Nature Deficit Disorder." Muir would undoubtedly agree. Co-founder Cheryl Charles, PhD, is the former founding national director of Project Learning Tree and Project WILD, the two most widely used environmental education programs for K-12 educators in North America. C&NN is partly sponsored by the Sierra Club, the environmental organization founded by Muir.

Kristin worked with the C&NN team to create a visually stunning series of activity guides for House Parties, Nature Clubs and Schools – evergreen materials that will be used far beyond broadcast. C&NN's "Let's G.O." (Get Outside) network of nature organizations across the nation was alerted to the John Muir special and mobilized via e-newsletters and e-blasts. In order to be as environmentally friendly as possible, effective use was made of the internet and social media for distribution and dissemination of the materials.

Additional outreach partners included the USDA/US Forrest Service's "More Kids in the Woods" program; National Parks Conservation Association; PBS Teachers; and PBS Parents.

Teachers, parents, nature educators, nature-lovers, and kids of all ages were encouraged to use the beautiful guides as a jumping off point to "walk in the footsteps of John Muir."

The reaction:

"Dominique and I are so pleased with what you did for the John Muir project we would like to continue to use you for our educational outreach if you are interested."

Catherine Tatge
Producer/Director, John Muir in the New World
Artistic Director, Global Village Media

The client:

Global Village Media

The production team:

John Muir in the New World is a co-production of Global Village Media and THIRTEEN’s American Masters for WNET. Catherine Tatge is producer, director and writer, Leslie Clark is producer and writer, Bob Elfstrom is director of photography (recreations), Dan Kowalski is director of photography (nature footage), Tom Haneke is editor, and executive producers are Peter Evans and Steve Boyd. Dominique Lasseur is executive producer for Global Village Media. Susan Lacy is the series creator and executive producer of American Masters. Major funding for John Muir in the New World was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The website:

WNET: American Masters