Where did you grow up?
In a couple places in New Jersey. I lived in Elizabeth, which is a kind of more urban area until about 7th grade. Then I moved to Springfield, which is some normal old suburban town in Jersey. Nothing exceptional, but some amazing people.
What brought you to Ithaca?
Ithaca College a hundred percent. Well… like 95, or some other number. It was the university at first. It's actually funny. I didn't want to apply, but my mom insisted that I just apply. So I did, and i learned more about the area and was infatuated. What really stole my heart was all of the natural area around and in Ithaca. I couldn't imagine myself cooped up in a city or in the middle of nowhere.
I came in as Environmental Studies. I explored a bunch of different classes my second semester to see if it was what I really wanted to do. I kept with it for a little bit but changed to Outdoor Adventure Leadership this past spring semester. Since then, I've started to feel like I should go back to ENVS. We'll see what happens. I just wish that I could take whatever classes I want, ya know? Just to learn cool shit, not a set of courses they think I should take for a major they offer. I just wanna learn cool shit.
How many years have you been at IC?
Two so far! Coming up on my junior year.. kinda, the year after that will be my real junior year. I'm spending a year in Washington state studying a bunch of wilderness skills and practices and cool shit. Tracking and ecology and medicinal plants and permaculture and primitive skills, and how to teach this stuff.
How did you get into wilderness education?
It started with my friends showing me primitive skills stuff, pretty much just how to make friction fires. We would do it all the time in our rooms at school, the best incense that you can get. Our floor was known for being close. We had the most noise complaints of any floor that year. We were the Outdoor Adventure Learning Community. We still are, but we've moved to a difference place on campus.
From there, the class work followed?
Yeah. I took a class called Environmental Sentinels where we practiced a lot of nature awareness and primitive skill type stuff, which really changed the way I looked at the world. It was really amazing. More than anything, it just made me spend more time in the woods. Woods time is the best time. After that I hooked up with an organization that one of my professors ran which has programs in primitive skills and naturalist thinking, like after school programs and camps. I interned with them for a while and got a chance to teach kids all of these skills and we'd sing songs and play games. It was fun. We got to go into the woods for hours a day and just play. What more could you want in the world?
So, how did you land a gig with Comet?
I was walking around the commons one day and went to the shot to check it out, after doing that a couple times I asked Kadie if I could intern with them. She was stoked about it and I started coming in twice a week to help out, mostly build boards and do random stuff. After some time Kadie asked if I wanted to work on the weekends, and here I am.
Okay, so I hear you've eat road kill. What up, Elan?
Where else can you find fresh, organic, grass fed, free range, happy meat, for FREE. Most people think that it’s disgusting and totally unacceptable in today’s society, while they're ingesting genetically modified garbage. You can taste the difference. Just make sure the road kill is fresh.
What roadkill have you eaten?
Hmm, the first I had was Squirrel. A friend of mine found it one night on his way to our apartment. After that I had some groundhog stew. It was alright. The squirrel was fantastic. I’ve had plenty of venison. It’s a great find. I’ve had a couple raccoons and a wild turkey.
Your Mindset is everything. If you want to do something but are scared… do it. We tend to think of all the shitty outcomes. Why not think of all the positive that will come of it? Also take some time in the woods and just sit.