Lane Weinberg: Retired, But Still Teaching Ecological Lessons

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Local college to honor Lane Weinberg, Spokane’s most beloved environmentalist.

“The real honor is doing something that helps the environment.

Former high school teacher Lane Weinberg still has a few lessons to teach – and at least one more award to collect.

Weinberg, 72, retired in 2006 after teaching for 49 years, including 44 in the Mead School District, located just north of his hometown of Spokane. During a teaching career that stretched from the St. Louis Public Schools (where he worked for four years after earning a Masters of Education Degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis) to Mount Spokane High School, Weinberg – who taught mostly environmental science classes – carved a niche as an ecological champion, spearheading several local initiatives designed to teach his students the importance of environmental stewardship.

Among other programs, Weinberg – always with an army of students in tow – led cleanups of city parks, protested against numerous environmentally unsound residential and commercial developments and initiated a 1964 petition drive that resulted in the Spokane City Council’s Riverfront and Great Gorge Park Development Statement, which directed new urban projects to clean up and improve the city’s riverfront area.

Over the years, those efforts earned the teacher nearly two dozen awards from local governments, groups and associations, including the City Council – which honored Weinberg four times as its Citizen of the Year – and regional chapters of the National Audubon Society, the Boy Scouts of America and the Nature Conservancy, to name a few.

On Jan. 23, Weinberg will be honored again, this time for his work behind the scenes of Sustainable September, Spokane’s annual, month-long promotion of “green living.” Weinberg worked closely in 2011 with Community-Minded Enterprises, the nonprofit organization behind the annual event, and rallied several students from the Mead School District to the cause. Students created signs promoting the event, wrote reports on the importance of environmental sustainability and even signed pledges to take certain conservative measures during September, such as limiting their daily electricity usage and either walking or biking to school one day per week, in lieu of taking a car or bus.

Because of those efforts, the Spokane Community College Natural Resources Association is honoring Weinberg as its 2012 Person of the Year.

“Anybody who knows me knows I’m a firm believer in sustainability and reducing our so-called ‘carbon footprint,’” Lane Weinberg said. “I think Sustainable September and all of the work done by groups like Community-Minded Enterprises and Down to Earth Northwest is terrific, and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

The SCC Natural Resources Association is open to all individuals interested in natural resources and forest management. The club invites guest speakers from private, state and federal agencies to its weekly informational meetings – Weinberg has lectured there several times – and encourages participation in professional organizations such as the Society of American Foresters.

“We’ve known Lane Weinberg for a long time,” said Natural Resources Association member Gary Brown. “He’s a true gentleman and one of Spokane’s all-time great environmental leaders. He’s done more for environmental causes than just about anyone, ever, in all of the Inland Northwest, and the only surprise here is that it took us this long to honor him for his tremendous efforts.”

The association plans to salute Weinberg during its regular weekly meeting, scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Jan. 23 in Building 8, Room 103, on the Spokane Community College campus.

“I am deeply honored that the Natural Resources Association would choose to honor me,” Lane Weinberg said. “But the real honor is doing something that helps the environment, and of course emphasizing the importance of environmentalism and conservatism with younger generations. These kids are the ones who will be called on to make a difference in the future, and if I can do something that teaches them now how important it is to take care of the world around us, then that’s the real reward.”

About Lane Weinberg
Lane Weinberg, 72, is a retired schoolteacher and environmentalist in Spokane, Washington. Except for the six years he studied at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the four years he lived and worked in the City of St. Louis, he’s a lifelong Spokane resident. Recognized four times as the Spokane City Council’s Citizen of the Year, Weinberg enjoys hiking and kayaking. He lives with his wife of 50 years, Mary, and visits his four children and 12 grandchildren often.

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