Yellowstone. Just that word has something sacred to it, something sacred in its meaning. It is a place of pilgrimage that brings people from all over the world to experience the raw power of one of our greatest natural treasures. Yellowstone is an iconic wilderness landscape and one of the last nearly intact temperate ecosystems left on our planet. Inspiring a commitment to the wilds of Yellowstone has been a cornerstone of Michael’s work as a ranger naturalist, founder/director of Yellowstone Country Guardians, writer and speaker and remains an important part of the Be Audacious movement.
There is perhaps no landscape more “audacious” than Yellowstone. Gurgling mud pots, spewing geysers, soaring mountains, sweeping meadows, cavernous canyons, raging rivers, and abundant wildlife such as grizzly bears, wolves, bison and elk, all add up to one of the most unique and important natural areas left spanning the globe. From Michael’s early childhood growing up along the shores of a small mountain lake in North Idaho, his family often journeyed back to the hallowed grounds Yellowstone. This inspired a connection between Michael and the world’s first national park at an early age. Years later, after a decade spent living in the suburbs of Seattle, and becoming urbanized, Michael’s world was rocked. A year after a car accident that ultimately ended Michael’s days on the hardwood as a standout basketball player, he was diagnosed with a rheumatic disease that transformed his life and challenged the only identity he knew. It was during this difficult time of transformation, at the age of 21, that Michael reconnected to his beloved Yellowstone. From city boy to wilderness advocate, Michael remade himself, discovering ultimate meaning and true life’s purpose in the process. In Yellowstone, Michael discovered his passion and earned the nickname “The Rev”–short for the Reverend of Yellowstone—from sharing his Yellowstone sermons throughout the park and later, across the country. Thus began over a decade of Michael’s work on the behalf of this wilderness mecca.
Our planet faces more challenges and threats today than ever before. Now, more than ever, it is important to galvanize and inspire the next generation of conservationists, stewards and guardians of this big, rugged, watery Earth that we call home. Showcasing Yellowstone as a keystone ecosystem, Michael contends that if we cannot inspire a commitment to iconic, cathedral-like wilderness areas such as the Amazon, Serengeti and Yellowstone, perhaps we can’t do it anywhere. Just as the grizzly bear represents an umbrella species throughout North America, indicating the health of the ecosystem, so, too, can the health of wild landscapes such as Yellowstone indicate the condition of our planet. Sharing his love and passion for Yellowstone and all things wild, Michael tells his Yellowstone story as a catalyst to help others discover what makes them tick—and in the process, he’s sure to inspire new voices for the environment.