Shimon Schwarzschild is a noted national and international environmental protection advocate and activist.
Shimon changed careers in 1978 from an engineering to an environmental conservation career by accepting a position as Executive Director of American Youth Hostels (AYH) San Francisco office. During his 5 year tenure, Shimon spearheaded the development of a chain of hostels along the California Coast with a 30-fold expansion of annual overnight capacity (3,000 to 100,000, expanded staff from one (himself) to over 30, and pioneered in organizing and leading one of the first outside bicycle tours allowed into the Peoples Republic of China. He was then appointed consultant to the AYH national organization, completing a plan for a Pacific Coast Hostel Chain from Canada to Mexico.
Shimon launched the international Assisi Bird Campaign in 1982 after discovering the decimation of the songbird population of Assisi, Italy, the hometown of St. Francis, the saint of ecology, that culminated in permanent protection of Assisi’s songbirds, the establishment of an environmental education and ethics center in Assisi, a permanent nature reserve on Mt. Subasio, and the founding of the Assisi Nature Council and its U.S. affiliated organization: Action for Nature (www.actionfornature.org) active in selecting, recognizing and awarding young eco-heroes from around the world, totaling over 100 eco-heroes to date.
He served as an active community leader in San Francisco for 30 years to preserve and protect community livability as President of the City’s largest neighborhood organization, and led successful efforts to reduce residential zoning density, limit height limits, establish a neighborhood park, and develop bike lanes.
He co-founded the Native Yew Conservation Council (YewCon), to protect wild yew trees containing the anti-cancer chemical “taxol”. and to “…save both yew trees and cancer patients…” through tree stewardship instead of wanton tree destruction.” He served as President, Board Member, and convener of YewCon’s two international conferences in Berkeley CA and Beijing PRC, and led or coordinated many public meetings to publicize the plight of the threatened yews. The persistent efforts of YewCon, joined by other concerned organizations and individuals, ultimately succeeded in halting the harvesting and decimation of the world’s wild yew population by winning public support and helping to persuade the pharmaceutical industry to halt its wild yew decimation practices, and to expedite the use of plantation grown domestic yews for anti-cancer use.
He was appointed Executive Director of the Whale Center, a national whale and ocean protection organization, where he managed its popular Whale Watch and Whale Bus programs, and initiated its Evening at the Whale Center.
He served for 13 years as a member of the Commission of Education and Communication of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the world’s most powerful international conservation organization jointly administered by NGOs and government ministries, attending and participating in the Union’s tri-annual General Assemblies in: New Zealand, Costa Rica and Argentina, and other Commission meetings in the UK, the Dominican Republic and California, and chaired CEC’s USA Committee.
He joined Green TV as Associate Producer-Development, helping to produce two award-winning TV videos shown on most PBS TV stations: “The Forest Through the Trees” and “El Dorado”.
He visited Australia researching and writing articles about the plight of a group of wild dolphins in Monkey Mia, Western Australia, and helping to ultimately win permanent protection of their habitat by the establishment of Shark Bay Peninsula National Park and Seashore.
He served for 10 years as Technical Publication Editor (Bioscience) at the USDA Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station, editing technical reports and assessments on the spotted owl, the northern goshawk, and the marbled murrelet, and other research reports on carbon sequestration, the mono-terpenes of pines, and other subjects, and represented the US Forest Service on the US Delegation attending IUCN’s 50th anniversary celebration in Fountainbleau, France.
He wrote articles & book reviews, primarily on environmental issues in: Audubon and Sierra Magazines, SF Chronicle & many other publications.
He worked briefly as Chief Engineer of Sound Apparatus Company, Sterling NJ upon graduating from NCE, before being recalled to active Navy duty during Korean War.
During Korean War, Shimon served as Electronic Technician, and after receiving officer commission, was appointed Repair Officer supervising facilities and personnel aboard a destroyer flotilla flagship.
Shimon joined electronic manufacturing firm, Blonder-Tongue Labs after his Navy discharge, as Quality Control Manager, establishing and managing its quality-control department with a 10-person staff.
He moved to California, organizing a manufacturer’s representative organization, that expanded to a 10-engineer, 3-office statewide business: the RDX Corporation. Shimon became an RDX partner and its corporate Vice-President.
He attended, and graduated from Newark College of Engineering (now part of New Jersey Institute of Technology) with a BS degree in Electrical Engineering, and wrote a regular satirical column in college’s newsletter, “The Technician”. In 2013, 60 years after graduation, NJIT bestowed on Shimon its Alumni Achievement Award for “…his globally recognized leadership, compassion and dedication in fostering public concern, advocacy and awareness in addressing numerous social, environmental and humanitarian issues both domestically and internationally…”.
Shimon joined the U.S. Navy during WWII, attending radar and electronic technician schools in Chicago, Gulfport MI and Pearl Harbor HI before serving aboard destroyers in the Pacific and participating in the invasion of Okinawa. Later, he served as instructor in the Naval Reserve, teaching electronic technician trainees.
Recently, the German government restored Shimon’s German citizenship that it had stripped from his family in the Nazi era. For details see Shimon’s poem: “Return to Wertheim” on this website’s PUBLISHED & VIDEO MATERIAL page. Shimon sees his dual citizenship as another step towards his ambition to become a true “Citizen of the World”!
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