When a postcard arrived at Auto & Tire Parts NAPA in Advance, Missouri, inviting employees to enter Mother Nature Network’s “Rock the Environment” contest with a chance to win tickets to the White House Correspondents’ Jam, Store Manager Ronnie Martin decided to enter. In fact, he submitted an entry form every day at MNN.com, as the postcard suggested.

Martin’s persistence paid off. He was the “Rock the Environment” grand prize winner and received airfare for two to Washington, DC; hotel accommodations; dinner with Rolling Stones keyboardist and co-founder of Mother Nature Network, Chuck Leavell; plus VIP passes to the 2016 White House Correspondents’ Jam.

A weekend to remember

“I enjoy music and listened to the Rolling Stones and rock and roll growing up during the 70s so I was excited to win,” said Martin. “I invited my brother James to join me on the trip. He lives on the other side of the state, so it was a great opportunity to spend time together and share this experience with him.

“When we arrived in Washington DC, a car and driver picked us up at the airport on Friday and took us to our hotel. My brother and I agree the entire trip was an experience that will be hard to match. As he said, we were treated like we were ‘somebody.’

“On Friday evening at The Hamilton, before the music began, the two of us got to spend time with Chuck Leavell. It was just the three of us. We talked about how we grew up in small towns and about things we like to do like hunting and fishing. It was like sitting down and spending time with a neighbor.”

Martin and his brother also enjoyed dinner and a concert. The four bands that played featured prominent journalists and Leavell played a song with each one.

The lineup included Pulitzer Prize-winning CNBC reporter Steve Liesman and his folk/rock band, the Mooncussers; David Remnick of The New Yorker and his band, the Sequoias; Brian Dumaine of Fortune playing with The Prowlers; and New York Times Washington Correspondent Carl Hulse and the NativeMakers. NBC’s Erica Hill emceed.

The last musical set at the White House Correspondents’ Jam featured music from a one-night-only group dubbed Phil and the Busters, made up of Widespread Panic’s guitarist and lead singer John Bell, R.E.M.’s multi-instrumentalist Mike Mills, Marshall Tucker Band’s drummer Paul Riddle and Rolling Stones’ keyboardist Leavell.

Celebrating the NAPA sponsorship

Leavell is no ordinary rock star. He lives on a sustainable tree farm with his wife in Macon, Georgia, and consults with government officials to help shape forest policies in America. He also co-founded Mother Nature Network, which launched in 2009. MNN is the world’s most visited for-profit environmental website, ahead of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Since 2014 NAPA has been a sponsor of the site’s travel section, which offers stories about beautiful destinations, daring adventures, wacky attractions and road trip tips.

The “Rock the Environment” contest was a way for MNN and NAPA to celebrate their partnership.

“NAPA plays an important role in helping the Mother Nature Network thrive, and this contest is a fun way to thank the company and its employees for their enthusiasm about sustainability,” said Leavell.