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
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.
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.