Ron Swaisgood: Nature is His Nurture

Ron Swaisgood: Nature is His Nurture
When Ron Swaisgood first came onto our radar here at Disney Dads, we immediately jumped at the chance to do a story about him. Ron’s the director of Applied Animal Ecology at the San Diego Zoo (in other words, patron saint of over 20 endangered species), co-founder of Family Adventures in Nature, papa bear of a family of four, and a veritable cross between Indiana Jones and Bear Grylls.

Spending time in nature, according to Ron in a blog post on the C&NN, runs this deep for him: “I don’t know any other way. It’s my oxygen, my religion.”

We didn’t know, however, when we set out to do this story, that we’d be intersecting Ron at a very critical, life-changing and deeply pivotal moment in his life.

Our first phone conversation with Ron took place a couple of weeks ago. He called us on a cell phone from a rustic cabin in Julian, California, about an hour outside of San Diego. Ron, his wife and their two children were joining about ten other families for a weekend of hiking and playing — a typical weekend for the Swaisgood family and their nature club.

We started by chatting about his childhood: Ron grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. “I was a long-leash, free-range kid,” he said, referencing Lenore Skenazy and her book “Free Range Kids.”

“When I got home from school, I’d head outdoors ‘til the streetlights came on. I remember fantastic patches of woods…
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