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Mary Corddry: A Sierran Life from Keyboard to Kayak
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by Laura Sargent | 2008

Mary Corddry who recently became active with the Sierra Club during the past three years shows that “if you want it to happen, you got to get out there and make it happen.” She encourages each member to volunteer a small portion of his or her time. Find something you enjoy and set out to do it!

Mary Corddry is a member of the Baltimore excom, an outings leader, the editor of the Baltimore newsletter, The Baltimore Sierran, and a key editorial member of the Chesapeake team. Her motto is: “If you want it to happen, you got to get out there and make it happen.”

Corddry has been a Club member since 1977, but has only become active during the past three years. “I used to just send in a check and do nothing,” she says.

Her stepped-up involvement was not the result of a phone call or email; rather, things just fell into place. After Richard Klein stepped down from his position as editor of the Baltimore newsletter, Corddry realized that her love of writing could help the group. She quickly took on the job of editor. Then she attended an excom meeting and learned of a vacancy. Soon she became a member of that. To top it off, her enjoyment of the outdoors made her a prime candidate to become an outings leader.

Yes even with all Corddry does, the chapter still needs help. “People have something in mind when they join,” she notes. Corddry believes that if members focus on why they joined along with what they are good at and what they enjoy, the Club will become stronger. 

Corddry joined in part because she enjoys the outdoors. Now, as an outings leader she plans trips like biking, hiking, and removing invasive plants. While she was raising her daughter (now 20) not many outings were offered. As a leader, Corddry makes sure she offers outings that the entire family can enjoy. “Each is a different adventure,” she says, “because different people show up. There is always a large age range.” Even though her leadership position takes time, it’s time doing something she loves. Corddry says she would be doing these things anyway.

While biking and hiking are fun, for Corddry invasive plants are an “urgent issue that is overlooked.” She first learned about the plant removals through notices from Cromwell Valley Park and the Baltimore City Weed Warriors. She admits, “I don’t know plants. I am certainly not a naturalist.”

But that doesn’t stop her from wanting to help. Through her invasive removals, Corddry sees forests in a new light—including the awareness of how quickly invasives are spreading and hurting the ecosystem. She’s been using her love of outings and new knowledge of invasive plants to help clear the old Prettyboy Trail around the Prettyboy Reservoir.

About 12 miles long, this trail had not been maintained for about 15 years—ever since its founder, Martin Laribe, was no longer able to hike. Today, after six months of volunteer work, most of the trail is cleared. Corddry looks forward to leading hikes here in honor of Laribe.

Corddry does not spend all her time volunteering for the Sierra Club. She is also a health insurance specialist. Busy as she is, she makes sure to focus on the main things she wants to accomplish in life. Leading outings, editing newsletters, and being on the excom does not seem like more work to her. When asked how she does it all, Corddry says simply, “It’s all about choice.” 


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