Outdoor Idaho was one of the first television programs I remember watching upon my arrival to Idaho in 1989. I tuned in on a tiny black-and-white set in a rented apartment in Idaho Falls. But even with that limited view, I could tell how beautiful the scenes were.
Just as important as the scenery, though, was the information in the shows. As a newcomer to the Gem State, Outdoor Idaho helped me get my bearings, educating me not only about the diverse landscape of Idaho, but also the very important natural resource issues within its borders.
Now, more than 17 years after coming to Idaho Public Television, and after having actually worked on Outdoor Idaho, I can say that my admiration for the series remains the same. As both a viewer or as a producer, I always learn when I watch an installment of the program. Whether it's discovering a remote part of Idaho, learning about another way to enjoy the outdoors, or hearing both sides of a contentious debate, there's always something new to be had in each episode.
And there are certainly new challenges around every corner when you're producing and shooting an Outdoor Idaho segment! Whether it's figuring out how to film someone on a racing bike, trying to haul gear up the side of the mountain, or convincing a young, angry child at a boot camp that you're not the enemy, nothing in any school prepares you for the kind of puzzles you need to work out when you film in the outdoors.
I couldn't do my programs without help from many people behind the scenes, often state and federal employees. They're the ones that take time from their job to lead us to special places and people, and even sometimes help carry gear! People like Kurt Mack, who runs the Nez Perce Tribe's wolf program, Leo Hennessy, the state's non-motorized trail coordinator, and Ed Cannady, the backcountry recreation manager for Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
Normally, producers are behind the scenes. You, the viewer, get to see that guy in the hat, Bruce Reichert! But this past year all of us actually participated in an Outdoor Idaho called "Getaways." I found it quite difficult to be the focus of my own story, and not a little embarrassing. I made a fool of myself fly fishing, and had to show a bit of skin when I took a dip in a hot pool.
But I also challenged myself to go down the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River in a kayak, facing my fear of water. I got to touch a fish that had swum 1800 miles to the ocean and back to the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery. And I took a beautiful bike ride with a view of the Sawtooths. It ended up being quite a lot of fun, and the whole time I kept thinking how lucky I was to be having those experiences.
As with all my journalistic endeavors, though, it is the people I find most intriguing. I tend to gravitate to individuals on both ends of the age spectrum. I've been inspired by Nelle Tobias, one of Idaho's early environmentalists; Olive Purcell, a 70-year old hardscrabble female cowpuncher; Frances Ashcroft, who took up cycling as a septuagenarian to ward off depression; the grandmothers of the "Great Old Broads for Wilderness"; the children at SUWS, a therapeutic wilderness camp; and the kids at Camp Rainbow Gold, which gives children with cancer a week-long reprieve in the mountains of Central Idaho.
I hope and trust that you, too, have learned and been inspired by Outdoor Idaho to get out and enjoy our beautiful state. Happy Birthday, Outdoor Idaho! Here's to many more.