John's Open Road

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Conservation Director
Living Rivers

“The best experience is making mistakes … once you make a mistake, you'll never make it again.”


Environment & Nature Non-Profit Organizations


Choices Risk Determination Fulfillment Hard Work Money & Financial Security Pressure Regrets Struggle


Upholding a Cause and Belief


  • He moved around as a child, but his family always lived near the Colorado River.
  • The river was always a source of recreation for him; he valued the simplicity of the outdoors, never felt materialistic.
  • Started college but walked out in the middle of a math class because he knew he needed to find a career outdoors.
  • He spent time laboring on farms, building homes-realized the thing that tied all of his interests together was the Colorado River.
  • Worked as a river guide for 21 years, much longer than most people spend at that job; became the Colorado Riverkeeper in 2002.
  • Always figured that there were nonprofit groups taking care of the river, then realized that no one was protecting the river's best interests.
  • He quit his river-keeping job to form his own nonprofit, Living Rivers, with the explicit mission of conserving the Colorado River.
  • Faces harsh criticism and threats for his conservationist work, but he relishes his adversaries because they facilitate healthy debate.

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