Donna Buell of Spirit Lake has just been elected to the Sierra Club’s national board, becoming the first Iowan ever to serve in that capacity. She grew up on a farm in Holstein, Iowa and lived out of state for a number of years.
Moving back to her home state 15 years ago, she got involved with the Okoboji Protective Association, Friends of Lakeside Laboratory and Dickinson County Clean Water Alliance.
Buell said she’s something of an anomaly in environmental advocacy groups, with her background in finance and law. When groups such as the Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club learned she could provide free business expertise, she was quickly brought into leadership roles, she said with a chuckle. […]
Buell still has ownership in three Holstein farms she rents to others. She’s big into the quest to rebuild the carbon level in soils to where they were before decades of growing crops depleted minerals. She said farmers like to say they are stewards, and they need to prove it with actions.
“We’ve always known that building the soil back again is the only thing that will sustain farming. Plus, it makes for better crops, you know, (with) the organic matter,” Buell said.
“The Chapter is thrilled that Donna has been elected to the board,” said Jerry Neff, chair of the Iowa Chapter Executive Committee. “We’ve never had an Iowan represent the Sierra Club on its national board of directors since we organized in Iowa in 1972. We’re very excited.”
Buell has served in various capacities with the Sierra Club at the local, state and national level. In 2006, she organized the Prairie Lake Group that encompasses Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, O’Brian, Osceola, Palo Alto and Pocahontas counties and served as its chair. Elected to the chapter executive committee, Buell has served as the chapter treasurer since 2008. Nationally, she currently serves as Budget Officer of the Council of Club Leaders Executive Committee and on the National Finance and Risk Management Advisory Committee.
A volunteer for the environment for the past 20 years, Buell also served as a member of the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission from 2003 to 2007 as an appointee of then-Gov. Tom Vilsack.
According to Buell, “roughly 4,000 of the 5,000 members are urban residents who live in or near Des Moines, Iowa City or Cedar Falls.” If you would like to get involved, you can find much more information about the Iowa chapter here. They also have an e-mail discussion group and a Facebook page.