GUIDES FROM THE WILD SIDE
Greetings everyone! Another week has come and gone, and here we are for my next blog. After having such an amazing experience at the Biggest Week in American Birding, I thought I would create a new blog series highlighting our amazing guides and staff! From time to time I’ll be writing these blogs as a way for you all to better know the guides and folks here at Wildside. So when you’re thinking of an adventure with us, don’t forget to look back and see if you see your guide featured here, and learn a little more about them! I’ve humbly decided to begin with myself to test the format. Enjoy!
“Every time that I walk out my door with my camera, my aim is to tell the world a story. A story through images. A story that wildlife and nature cannot tell you itself. I’m a wildlife and conservation photographer. I capture emotional and evocative images, and want to ignite a fire in your hearts. I want to show you the world from a different perspective. I want you to care. To love.” This is the first paragraph of my “behind the lens” bio on my website, and I found it fitting to share. Well all have a story to tell, goals to accomplish, and a drive to live the best life we can building around our goals and stories. Here is a bit of mine.
WHAT WAS YOUR SPARK BIRD?
The Bald Eagle. Years ago, I had never even heard of birding. I had always enjoyed birds. My parents set up feeders in our yard and as a child I would sit with my torn to shreds Peterson Field Guide and identify them. There wasn’t a lot to keep a young hyperactive boy occupied where I grew up, so I’m sure that my parents were thrilled when I would sit at the window or on the porch and silently look up birds. But I grew away from birds for quite a time, until a good friend asked me if I wanted to go birding one day. I agreed and we went to visit Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area. Getting out of the car at our very first stop, my friend said “Bald Eagle!” I turned to see where he was pointing and there, just 20 yards or so away, sat a majestic adult Bald Eagle. I had never seen one in the wild and was hooked!
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN BIRDING, AND WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO MAKE IT MORE THAN A HOBBY?
I started birding just over five years ago. After seeing my first Bald Eagle in the wild, birding consumed every free moment I had for quite some time. I had such a drive to see all of the species that I could, start a life list, and just enjoy my adventures outdoors trying to find them. Not long after I started birding, the same friend that took me on my first outing put a camera in my hands. The rest is history. I’ve spent virtually every day since getting deeper and deeper into birds and photography. I started learning about the challenges that birds face as they migrate and nest. About habitat loss and glass strikes. I now try to use my work whenever possible as a means to affect conservation.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF DOING WHAT YOU DO?
So many things. I know it seems like a cliché answer, but it couldn’t be more true. Working in this field allows me to be out in nature more. From the fields and hardwood forests of the Midwest, to the rock strewn coasts of the Northeastern states, the boreal bogs and forests of the far north and the deserts of the Southwest. I love educating people as I’m out birding. It’s a wonderful feeling when someone that never pays attention to birds comes to ask what you’re looking at, and end up getting hooked themselves! Recently, I assisted with two photography workshops, and had so much fun it was almost indescribable. Being able to help nurture a love of nature and photography have become paramount in my life.
WHAT IS ONE THING ABOUT GUIDING NATURE TOURS THAT HAS IMPROVED OR CHANGED YOUR LIFE?
Having only recently guiding anything one might call “official” I don’t have a lot of solid experience to write about. But I can give you all a few thoughts and ideas about what is to come and how I view it! Guiding, and really birding in general, brings people together. It connects all of us. All races and religions. All nationalities. Wealthy and impoverished. Being a part of something with such a massive scale is such an amazing thing. I cannot overstate the importance of those connections not just for myself, but all of us. In an ever growing world, humans are having more of an effect on wildlife and nature than ever before. These connections help us to grow, form new friendships and alliances, and come together to save the things we love in a way we never could have before falling in love with birds and other wildlife. Working with Wildside has given me so much more than a job. It’s given me a platform. A place to speak and show our community of clients and the rest of the birding world what I stand for and why we should work to save it. It’s given me confidence. Contrary to popular belief, I’m actually a bit of an introvert, and often times simple conversation eludes me. But when I put on my Wildside gear and go out, I have the confidence to speak to anyone. To help teach folks about wildlife or photography. It’s given me a great team of friends and colleagues that I look up to. There are folks that have shown people the world for decades, and some that are newer to this life than I am. It’s a wonderful mix, and everyone brings something amazing to the table!
And there we have it ladies and gentlemen. I know it’s a bit of a long read, but I really want all of you to see who we are here at Wildside, and what we do. It’s so much more than just an tour company. We’re family and friends. Educators and guides. While I am sure that in many ways our whole team actively chose this life, I suspect that this life also chose us. We want to show you the world!
I do hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little about me, and that you look forward to learning more about all of the amazing people that make up the Wildside Nature Tours team. If you think you’d like to take an adventure with us, head on over to our “Tours by Date” page and have a look at our extensive list of upcoming trips! You’ll find all kinds of adventures ranging all over the world! If you’ve enjoyed this write-up we’d love for you to leave comments and feedback, and while you’re at it, join the Wildside Nature Tours Email list at the bottom of our main page to receive occasional notes and updates about trips and blogs! Our Facebook and Instagram pages are updated regularly, so follow along and see what we’re up to! Have a great week everyone!
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