The future of conservation

An interview with ecologist, author and explorer Roman Dial
mountains wildflowers
Photo: Bob Wick/BLM.

A few months ago, we introduced you to The Adventurer’s Son, a novel by renowned explorer Roman Dial which tells the story of the disappearance of and search for his late son Cody, who walked into a Costa Rican jungle in July of 2014 and never walked out. Dial, who is currently a professor of biology and mathematics at Alaska Pacific University is also a renowned explorer, who pioneered alpine routes in the Alaska Range while going to college in Fairbanks. He’s since left alpine climbing for the relative safety of packrafting and overland wilderness trips, and he participated in the inaugural Wilderness Classic on the Kenai Peninsula. Since then, Dial has participated in, and organized, many of his own overland wilderness races.

Dial received a Ph.D. from Stanford, a process which he describes as “completing (his) training as a modern ecologist.” Dial has a unique curiosity for the natural world that I’ve rarely seen in other sportsmen – even fly anglers. His attention to detail is astounding, and it shows throughout his writing and in every conversation I’ve had with him.

That curiosity for wild places is what led Dial and his wife Peggy to raise their two children while Dial hopped from one post-grad research project to another. Whether in Puerto Rico or Borneo, Dial raised his kids with the sort of naturalist education that should be the envy of anyone who has a passing appreciation for the natural world.

It’s from this background that Cody – Dial’s son – embarked on his own journey through Central America. The bulk of The Adventurer’s Son is about Cody’s disappearance in Costa Rica, but there’s so much more to this story than that of a son going missing, which is why I wanted to sit down for an extended conversation with Roman – to hopefully help him convey the multi-faceted aspects of the story contained in his book.

While Roman and I touch briefly on his book, the bulk of our interview focused on conservation. Specifically, I wanted to hear Roman describe how he instilled in his kids such a deep love and appreciation for the natural world. At a time when it’s hard to get kids interested in fishing, hunting, and conservation, we all need to look to people like Roman as an example of how we can do our best to preserve this legacy for the future.

Click on the player below to listen to the interview.