Monday August 19, 2013 | 10:25 AM
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 Geoff Smith, marine program director at The Nature Conservancy, Maine.
MT: What is your favorite childhood memory of the outdoors?
GS: Going canoeing on the Kennebec and fishing for bass with my father.
MT: What pulls you outside into nature? And what are your favorite outdoor activities?
GS: I love being on the water, in the water, and near the water. I am definitely a water person and love swimming, fishing, and boating. I also like hiking, skiing, and getting my young daughters in the woods or on the water as much possible. I want to get them out at a young age like my parents did with me so they can explore and discover the things in nature that make them happy.
MT: What hidden treasure in Maine should be at the top of everyone's To-Visit list?
GS: Mooselookmeguntic Lake up near Rangeley. And if you are going to go, be sure to check out the Height of Land Scenic Overview. It’s a great spot.
MT: When was the last time you ventured into nature to seek the thrills of adventure? And what did you do?
GS: I went camping at Mooslookmeguntic Lake with my family in mid-June. We camped, hiked, swam, and ate s’mores. All the usual stuff.  On the last night our tent almost got flooded out during a heavy downpour. We had good weather most of the weekend but the skies opened up after dinner and we soon realized our tent was in a low-lying area that was rapidly filling up with water. Once it began to feel like the tent was floating  I ran outside and dug a little ditch to divert the water away from the tent. It got pretty exciting pretty fast, but hey, that’s camping.
MT: How do you get outdoors and enjoy Maine's winter wonderland during the snowy months?
GS: I like to go skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, walking in the woods, and pond skating. I also built a hockey rink in the backyard for the girls this past winter which was a lot of work and a lot of fun. 
MT: What is your favorite smell, taste, or sound from nature and why?
GS: My favorite sound is the sound of loons calling at night. It’s my favorite because I can hear it anywhere and it reminds me of all the great places where I’ve hiked and camped out in Maine. It’s an easy reminder of my past experiences outdoors. It’s a very distinctive sound, but every call is a little different – that’s cool.
MT: If you had one day to spend on an ultimate Maine adventure, what would it consist of?
GS: I would wake up early in the morning and go fly fishing in the West Branch of the Penobscot River. Then I would hike the Knife Edge Trail on Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park and camp out at Chimney Pond that night.
MT: Beach or mountain: which do you prefer and why?
GS: Beach. It allows me to be close to the ocean, which I love. I can be at the beach with my two young daughters who aren’t quite ready for climbing mountains yet. The sights, smells, and sounds of the beach are why I love it so much.
MT: What is the best outdoor experience you've had beyond Maine's borders?
GS: When I was living in Montana a while back, we went downhill skiing on more than a foot of fresh powder in the early morning and then went fly fishing for trout that same afternoon. Part of what made it so memorable was the fact that it dumped snow the night before, we skied early, and by the afternoon when we were fishing and it was over 50 degrees -- we were floating down the river on a raft wearing shorts and t-shirts catching big trout!
MT: Is there any nature-based activity you have always wanted to do and hope to get around to doing this summer?
GS: Acadia National Park. I’ve been to Bar Harbor, but never really explored Acadia.
MT: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from your experiences in nature?
GS: Be prepared. Respect the power of Mother Nature, particularly the power of moving water. And remember to slow down and take time to appreciate the natural world around you. You’ll never know if the things around you will be there the next time you go.
MT: If you could thank nature for one thing what would it be?
GS: I would thank nature for nourishing my body and energizing my soul.

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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April 2014

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August 2013

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