Wild Keeper Spotlight: Brent Kuschewski

Wild Keeper Spotlight: Brent Kuschewski
Meet Wild Keeper, Brent Kuschewski! This is Brett's first term as a Wild Keeper with Keep Nature Wild, but he has loved the outdoors his whole life. Brent shared, "I was lucky enough to have many opportunities to visit National Parks, see various oceans/beaches, and take two road trips across the country as a child. This sparked a love for nature and the outdoors that has been there since I can remember. I really started to get "into" the outdoors once I was old enough to go out and explore on my own. I used to spend hours in the desert, and later the forest after moving to Wisconsin." Through all of his adventuring and time spent outdoors, he's also noticed the lack of diversity when he is out. He reflected, " I have felt a lack of representation across the outdoor space in most of the outdoor spaces (National /State Parks, Forests) I have visited and most times I am stunned when I see another POC, especially another Black individual. Often times that “stunned” look is returned."

Further expanding on this lack of diversity and feeling surprised when seeing another person of color in the outdoors he said, "I have spent tons of time in the outdoors throughout my life and grew up between predominantly white/affluent neighborhoods and those generally reserved for people of color. Having this perspective, I am not surprised by the lack of diversity in nature at all. I have seen first hand how POC lack the resources, knowledge, and comfortability to explore the outdoors. One example is that I had the chance to go fishing and learn orienteering during gym class at the school I attended while those that lived in my neighborhood and went to the local school did not. There is also the fact that many POC do not have the history in their family of going into the outdoors. This makes having the correct gear, knowing the laws/etiquette, and having a general comfortability being in nature just is not there. For these reasons, anytime I see another POC exploring, I get an excited and proud feeling. I am happily surprised and stunned at times, especially the further into the backcountry I travel. We hold a little though of place in the fight for equality by breaking down the barriers to the outdoors for POC. Shoutout to all the first generation POC hikers/explorers out there!" In regard to picking up trash as a Wild Keeper, Brent share that becoming a Wild Keeper has shifted his perspective in several ways: "Obviously, I now see trash everywhere I go and can't help but pick it up. The bigger and less obvious impact has been becoming more self-aware of where I can improve and help prevent trash from ending up in nature.  Seeing so many everyday items littered has made me use less, buy smarter, and live an overall more sustainable life. Be the change you want to see, right?!" 

Learn more about Brent and the read the full interview below!

KNW:What is your preferred way to get outside?
BK: Hiking, backpacking, running, and biking

KNW: Which would you pick between forests, deserts or mountains?
BK: This is actually a question I contemplate almost daily and my answer is forever changing! Each holds significance to me so I'd like to say a forest of saguaro lining a mountainous desert but I'll go with mountains for today.

KNW: What are some of the most memorable documentaries you enjoy about nature? 
BK: So many but I will try to give a few.
Into the Grand Canyon: Feeds my love for this place as you follow two friends on a journey fewer people have completed than have been to the moon.
Chasing Coral: Shows you the impact we are having on our oceans and planet.
Jane: Passion and courage drive the story of the world's foremost primatologist and how she changed a male dominated field forever. 
I grew up on Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and Nat Geo. There are so many good documentaries I am missing.

KNW: What is your favorite thing about being a Wild Keeper?
BK: Getting to see how a number of individuals can come together to create a larger impact. It is also great to connect with people from around the country.

KNW: Roughly how many pounds do you think you've picked up since you became a Wild Keeper?
BK: Up to this point in my first term, I have picked up roughly 40-50 lbs of trash. Most of this has come from around my neighborhood but a trip to Sedona and various spots around Phoenix the next couple weeks will help be double that. 

KNW: What goals do you have for this year? (or beyond?)
BK: Complete a rim-to-rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon, visit at least 5 National Parks in 2021, and hike part of the AZT.

You can find Brent and follow along on his adventures and pickups here

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