TGSG Note: The world is full of people who are really good at talking the talk, but Nathan Winters is a man that walks the walk. Or in his case, pedals the pedal.
In this interview, you’ll find out more about a person that not only loves nature, the environment, and people. but who is a great appreciator of life. For me, I think there is no greater lesson to share with children than to be bold — to really live life and love it. Thanks for the reminder, Nathan.
See ya outside! ~ The Grass Stain Guru
1. What kind of kid were you? Can you share a favorite play memory from childhood?
I was undoubtedly the rambunctious type and always full of energy. I would roam via foot and bicycle with little regard for rules or consequences. I guess you could say that I haven’t changed much.
I spent so much time outside as a child and created so many memories I don’t believe that I can specify one favorite. What I can tell you is that I absolutely loved a 20 minute game of two hand touch football at the bus stop early in the morning. The kids in my neighborhood and I played every day in the rain, wind or snow. Unfortunately for my mother every pair of jeans she bought me had grass stains on the knees within a few days until I was old enough to drive to school.
2. How did you develop such a strong conservation ethic and connection with nature? Did you have a mentor in your life that helped you develop those interests?
That is a great question and I didn’t have a mentor per se. My connection with nature came through travels and hands on experience. In 2003 I took a long and adventurous road trip covering the United States from Maine down to New Orleans and up to Seattle zig zagging along the way. Most of this time was spent in National Parks which created a catalyst form my relationship with the land and its immeasurable value to the human species. You could say the rest is history.
3. Biking across country is an amazing feat. What personal characteristics did you rely upon most during your journey, and how do you think the way you were raised helped you develop those traits?
I would have to say that my strong sense of freedom played the biggest role in the success of my journey. As a child I was given an abundance of play time and freedom which has instilled the strength and understating of the importance of things in the natural world.
4. In today’s culture, many of us spend very little time alone, and children in particular. On your journey, you had a lot of time alone with you and your thoughts. I personally believe it’s an important skill or characteristic to have: being comfortable with being on your own. Do you have any advice for parents to help foster this in today’s kids?
Talk to strangers. My recent journey and encounters in the past have taught me that too many children are raised on the old “don’t talk to strangers” mentality. Sure we need to apply common sense to this practice however in my honest opinion I feel we need to encourage children to engage and conversate without fear. It bothers me to see communities where people rarely speak to their neighbors. Those people will be regretful in a time of need.
5. What are a few of your favorite outdoor or nature-based activities to do?
What benefits does participating in these activities bring to your life?
Hiking in the wilderness alone with my dog Chaya is hands down the most gratifying activity for both her and I and the benefits are endless. We both get exercise and build a partnership in a natural landscape we enjoy, share and explore together.
6. If you could visit any natural area, where would it be and why?
I have been blessed with the flexibility and desire to travel a good portion of the world thus far. If I were to pack my bags and go anywhere tomorrow I would head to Fiordland National Park in New Zealand. The ancient landscape and the diverse ecosystem look to be amazing.
I would like to add one note to that subject… I know a lot of people and many of which I grew up with who have traveled the world but have never seen the Grand Canyon or the Smoky Mountains. I strongly encourage people to explore America and get to know their fellow Americans. It is a beautiful country with beautiful people.
Guest Blogger Bio: Nathan has recently completed his 5 month and 4,300 mile journey across America on a bicycle where he conducted an extensive research project taking a close look at agriculture, food chains and environmental issues. He currently lives in rural Vermont where he enjoys quality time with his beautiful dog Chaya. He works diligently on writing and marketing his novel which he hopes to be completed in the next few months. He remains passionate and is a strong advocate for protecting our land and the people on it.