Dave Willis ’74, coordinator of Wild Hope, lives in the midst of a “badly beat-up forest” near Ashland, Oregon. He just finished his 25th summer coordinating Sierra Treks, a branch of Wild Hope that operates backpacking/mountaineering wilderness programs for church and Christian school groups. Originally begun by Robin Wainwright ’64 for Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center, Sierra Treks has conducted Westmont’s Inoculum program in Yosemite since Dave founded it over 20 years ago.
Littlefoot Expeditions, another Wild Hope undertaking, offers custom horse-pack trips to threatened, roadless areas in southwest Oregon with Dave as the guide. He takes politicians, media, public land managers, funders, and conservation leaders on these excursions “to show them the remaining wilderness that will be lost unless we make legal efforts to protect it now.” He also enlists participants to support protection efforts.
When he’s at his home base in Lincoln, Dave chairs the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council and serves on the board of the Siskiyou Regional Education Project. He also travels to Washington, D.C., “to hassle bureaucrats and politicians and occasionally testify at environmental hearings.” His work has earned him a Special Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation (1991), an Environmental Service Award from the Christian Environmental Association (1994), and a Conservation Award (1995) from Headwaters, a regional environmental group.
With a master’s degree in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, Dave occasionally writes and speaks about Christ’s concern for all creation, using Colossians 1:16-20 as a starting point: “…for in him all things were created…all things were created through him and for him…. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether in earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (RSV).