My fascination with all things natural developed as a child on the small dairy farm in northeastern Minnesota where I grew up. I began managing the forest land on the farm with planting spud, axe and chainsaw and continue this today on the 63 acres of forest and wetland that I inherited. I am now managing the trees that grew from the 18,000 seedlings that I hand-planted in the 1960s for high quality poles and cabin logs.
I decided in the 10th grade to pursue my passion for natural resources as a career. I got my first undergraduate degree in forest science from the University of Minnesota School of Forestry. I then spent three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in a special three-way partnership between the University of MN, Peace Corps and government of Morocco. I worked as an arboretum manager for the Forest Research Station. I lived five km from the nearest town without electricity and immersed in the Arabic language, culture and fantastic cuisine.
I went back to UMN to graduate school concentrating on plant ecology and remote sensing. I worked in the IAFHE Remote Sensing Laboratory there for five years, specializing in remote sensing applications to wetlands – especially Mississippi floodplain, coastal Alaska and northern MN peatlands. In 1979, I went off Ouagadougou, Upper Volta with my wife and daughters for over 2 ½ years as a remote sensing applications specialist working equally with Anglophones and Francophones. At the end of this contract, I couldn’t imagine any work in the US that would be half as fascinating as working in developing countries.
I have been working as an independent consultant ever since with one three year contract as chief of party for a USAID institutional support project in Madagascar. I love working intensively for relatively short periods of time on teams of people from different countries and different backgrounds. I’m a Myers Briggs ENTP –a logical extrovert and very strongly a “big picture” person (although I can do a very detailed budget for a $5 million project). Most importantly, I am a very strong Myers Briggs “P” – I adapt very easily to fluid, changing, unstructured situations. Anyone who has spent their life as an independent consultant all over Africa would have to be a “P” – it is not a life suited for the “J”s. And I hope that leads some of you to do some research on Myers Briggs.
Some of my major interests are wild mushrooms, Zone 3 adapted fruit trees, folk songs and free thinkers. My philosophy of life is to “always question everything” – and this has led into some very interesting fields of inquiry. I find that it is often the things that we take for granted that are the most likely sneak up and bite us in the back.