Bryan Bates

Naturalist

Bryan’s passion for learning about the natural world and sharing it with others grew from a childhood spent camping with his grandpa and working on a farm. Through Outward Bound courses and the National Outdoor Leadership School, Bryan’s passion led him to become a science teacher, working on a Navajo Reservation for 10 years, at an alternative high school for four years and at community college for 26 years. He has a bachelor's degree in Native American studies and a master’s in environmental science, with research in acid-rain chemistry and photosynthesis. 

During his time at the Navajo Reservation, Bryan taught both science and Native science. To ensure he was fully prepared, Bryan researched cultural astronomy and studied the astronomical systems within a culture’s socio-religious-science classification system. He has since continued his research in cultural astronomy—publishing several articles and serving as co-chair and co-editor of conferences and proceedings for four years. He is now the president of the Society for Cultural Astronomy (www.scaas.org). 

After he received the Tough-Yucca award for his commitment to Navajo education, Bryan moved onto his next challenge—working with at-risk youth. As a teacher and counselor, he attempted to help kids find value in their lives through exploring their past, a process he also had to follow. He went on to create a school for at-risk Native students. 

In 1989, Bryan joined efforts to create Coconino Community College. The college opened with Bryan as the science teacher and he was engaged in all aspects of science education. He retired in 2016 with the title of Emeritus Professor. Bryan now spends his time volunteering and working with the people of Flagstaff to teach and encourage them about how they can better treat reclaimed wastewater to reduce endocrine-disrupting compounds, conserve water, and convert sewage sludge into electrical energy—all discussions Bryan can’t wait to have with you when you join him on your expedition.

Bryan, who has led many tours for different travel organizations, lives with his wife and daughter in their two-story, solar-powered and resource-recycled hogan (the traditional dwelling of the Navajo people), which he designed and built himself. In 2004, it received the Sustainable Housing Award. 


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