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Kevin Dean: Nature School Founder

Vidda Pro Trousers

“That was the first pant I bought when I got turned on to Fjällräven. I like the olive drab color because camouflage is a big thing for me for animal observation. I feel like everything about these pants is perfect, from the pocket placement to the reinforced knee-pads, and they’re water resistant to almost completely waterproof, depending on how you wax them. But really all of that is secondary to the fit: man, these pants fit like gloves. You don’t want baggy pants that are going to catch on stuff when you’re out in the woods.”

Kevin Dean – founder of Tawodi Nature School in Canal Winchester, Ohio – says his first real steps into nature came at the age of 14, when his family moved into a house that backed up against the woods.

“From the first day we moved in I started seeing this red-tailed hawk, and I always thought, ‘That hawk is calling me out to the woods.’ Eventually I made those woods my home, running the creek, building forts, discovering a whole world out there, and never really turned back,” says Dean, who enjoys that most people in his life now know him by the nickname Hawk.

“I spent my 20s traveling and experiencing as much as I could, hiked the Appalachian Trail, hitchhiked around Alaska for a summer, and lived up in the Yukon area of Canada with The Kaska Dena, a group of First Nations people. I worked as a guide in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, then got a job as a park ranger in Central Ohio, but it was more of a law enforcement job than a naturalist-type ranger, when what I really wanted to do was open my own nature school. So I did.”

Kevin Dean: Nature School Founder

The Tawodi Nature School he founded to teach love and respect for the wilderness, takes its name from the Cherokee word for, you guessed it, “Hawk.” He now teaches classes for kids in the summer and workshops for people of all ages during the rest of the year, including a series of events in partnership with the Fjällräven store in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“The main goal is to reconnect people with nature, teach them how to observe and understand and take care for what is going on in the wilderness,” he says. “We teach things like bird identification and animal tracking. We do a nest hunt, looking for nesting habitats for birds, so that kids will know how to treat an area respectfully when they find them.”

His own specialty is animal observation. Not for hunting or even for photography, he clarifies, just purely for watching and paying careful attention.

“Observing animals in their natural habitat, doing what they do without knowing you’re there, is one of the most rewarding things for me personally and for me to be able to share with students,” Dean says. It takes a lot of patience and perseverance, but to see them out in the wild doing their thing, to me it’s magical.” 

Kevin Dean: Nature School Founder

Dean says the Vidda Pro Trousers are his pick for those moments.

“That was the first pant I bought when I got turned on to Fjällräven,” he says. “I like the olive drab color because camouflage is a big thing for me for animal observation. I feel like everything about these pants is perfect, from the pocket placement to the reinforced kneepads, and they’re water resistant to almost completely waterproof, depending on how you wax them. But really all of that is secondary to the fit: man, these pants fit like gloves. You don’t want baggy pants that are going to catch on stuff when you’re out in the woods.”

 

Instagram: @tawodi.nature.school Canal Winchester, OH

Written by Colin Bane