Tuesday July 30, 2013 | 02:25 PM
Posted by Mike Tetreault

Nature is me. And yes, nature is you too.

How do I know this to be true? Because your photo and recipe entries for the Nature is ME contest prove it each and every day. From images of snowy landscapes, spiders and summits, to recipes for delicious sandwiches and pies, you show how nature is simply a part of who we are in Maine. We are all connected to nature in so many different ways.

But what about conservationists? How are conservationists – people who devote their lives to protecting nature itself – connected to nature? I turned to my friends and colleagues to find out. This week, I chatted with Tom Abello, senior policy advisor for The Nature Conservancy in Maine:

Tom+Abello%2C+of+The+Nature+Conservancy

MT: What is your favorite childhood memory of the outdoors?
TA:When I was a kid we’d go wilderness canoe tripping with my dad. One of my earliest memories was from when I was five years old. My dad took my brother and me on a three-day Moose River bow trip in Maine. It was my first canoeing trip with my dad. We were crossing the Attean Pond and I remember there were sizeable white caps ahead. We made it through fine, but it was pretty scary.
 
MT: What pulls you outside into nature? And what are your favorite outdoor activities?
TA:In the late spring/early summer, the green leaves of the trees really get me outside. It’s really cool to be outside when the trees are so green. My favorite things to do are hiking, canoeing and deer hunting.
 
MT: What hidden treasure in Maine should be at the top of everyone's To-Visit list?
TA:I have two. The first is Cobscook Bay State Park. It’s right on the ocean. I highly recommend it. The second is the East Royce and West Royce mountains on the New Hampshire-Maine border. It’s a pretty short climb, but it’s secluded with great views.
 
MT: When was the last time you ventured into nature to seek the thrills of adventure? And what did you do?
TA:Most recently, I canoed a section of the Sheepscot River which you can only canoe during periods of high water following a snow melt. There’s a set of rapids at the put-in. I went with a friend who had never been canoeing before, he loved it.
 
MT: How do you get outdoors and enjoy Maine's winter wonderland during the snowy months?
TA:My two girls are three and five years old and they’re learning to snowshoe and cross-country ski, so we try to do that as much as we can. We like to go sledding as well.
 
MT: What is your favorite smell, taste, or sound from nature and why?
TA:I like the sound of the barred owl. When you hear a barred owl, it really feels like you are really out there in a very secluded place. I also like how you can respond to it and call it in.
 
MT: What is the best outdoor experience you've had beyond Maine's borders?
TA:In 2006 I was given the opportunity to visit The Nature Conservancy’s Cherry Ranch and Niobrara Valley Preserve, in Nebraska. There are five hundred wild bison on the ranch and I helped with the roundup. The sound of the buffalo coming over the hill to go into the corrals was really something.
 
MT: What is the most important lesson you've learned from your experiences in nature?
TA:Don’t panic!

About this Blog

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Mike Tetreault leads The Nature Conservancy in Maine, where he works with partners in conservation, government and community development to identify solutions which ensure that Maine's natural resources are available for people and for nature.

He holds a degree in environmental studies from Brown and a MS from the field naturalist program at the University of Vermont, and has studied resource management in Kenya, Mexico and throughout New England.

Tetreault started his career teaching wilderness leadership and environmental education, and has worked for The Nature Conservancy since 1998. He lives in Bath with his wife, their daughter and a menagerie of pets.


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