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Ethan Shaw holding his hiking sticks between two large tree stumpsMountain view with Ethan Shaw in a cable car

About Ethan Shaw

Ethan Shaw is an independent Naturalist, Researcher, and Freelance Writer based in Northeast Oregon. He has 10+ years of experience in outdoor safety, landscape/historical ecology, geomorphology, ecosystem classification, and wildlife movement.

Title: Independent Naturalist, Researcher

Expertise: Hiking, Mountaineering, Paddling, Wildlife, Ecology, Environment Science, Field Meteorology

Education: Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • 10+ years of professional experience in freelance writing, with a primary focus on outdoor recreation, ecotourism, and science/natural history
  • 10+ years of experience developing and guiding nature-focused projects including the Wallowa-Blue Mountain Snowfield Project and a field guide to the Blue Mountain Province of the Northwest
  • Certified Storm Spotter for the National Weather Service
  • Member of the Wallowa Mountain-Hells Canyon Trails Association as well as the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation


Ethan grew up in Wisconsin, and the state’s wilderness made a lasting impression. From a young age, he was fascinated with the wooded ravines along the Lake Michigan coast, the Central Forest’s castellated mounds, and the kettle lakes of the North Woods. 

Thanks to summer family camping trips, Ethan was often drawn westward to the Great Plains, Yellowstone Plateau, the Bighorns, the Tetons, and Wind Rivers. After earning a degree in Wildlife Ecology & Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ethan moved West and deepened his explorations of its wide-open spaces while serving as a reporter for a local newspaper. Since 2010, he has called Northeast Oregon home. Nestled within the Columbia Plateau domain of the Blue-Wallowa Mountains and Hells Canyon, Ethan is based at the doorstep of both the Rockies and the “sagebrush sea” of the Great Basin.

While you’ll often find him in the backcountry, Ethan is equally inspired by the land- and skyscape right outside his door. He loves visiting wild places, where non-human processes are more visible and dominant, but also finds inspiration in the natural processes going on all around us. Known for his expertise in wilderness settings, and a unique ability to key others into natural phenomena or landmarks that are more easily overlooked, Ethan enjoys collaborating on outdoor adventures and the kind of citizen science that helps deepen the community’s awareness of and connect with the wild world.

Ethan is currently pursuing crosscut-saw and other trail work certifications through a local trails association and serves as a certified Storm Spotter for the National Weather Service. As an independent naturalist, Ethan also draws on his academic background in natural resources and a never-ending zeal for learning about the natural world to tackle a variety of nature-focused projects such as a survey of seasonal and perennial alpine snowfields in Northeast Oregon (the Wallowa-Blue Mountain Snowfield Project); a landscape-focused field guide to the Blue Mountain Province of the Northwest; a report on thunderstorm dynamics on the Columbia Plateau, and a historical-ecology investigation centered on American bison.

Ethan gives back by volunteering with the Wallowa Mountain-Hells Canyon Trails Association as well as the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation. He also serves on his local non-profit community association. When Ethan’s not exploring the backcountry, he can often be found in a cozy local pub, enjoying good music, a big bowl of pasta, and the company of close friends.

Ethan Shaw carefully walks through the mountain's vegetation and rocksEthan Shaw points out the view from the mountain summitIn the middle of the wilderness, Ethan Shaw poses with his wooden walking sticks

A Word from Ethan Shaw

“Getting into the outdoors for me is not only about exploration, adventure, and sightseeing, but also about observing and engaging with wild nature. I find deep joy and satisfaction in inspiring others to explore and seek to understand wild landscapes in a respectful, Leave-No-Trace manner.”

My Life Motto

Thoreau wrote somewhere about being a “self-appointed inspector of snow-storms and rain-storms,” and I feel like that’s the kind of job (or at least side-hustle) I’m working toward.


Ethan holds a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Ecology/Natural Resources and a graduate certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


In addition to his bachelor and graduate degree, Ethan has expanded her outdoor expertise through multiple certification programs, including:
  • Storm Spotter Certification through the National Weather Service
  • Pursuit of crosscut saw and other trail work certifications through a local trail association


Ethan is also a member of the following professional associations:
  • Member of the Wallowa Mountain-Hells Canyon Trails Association
  • Member of the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation

All Articles From Ethan Shaw

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