So beyond a wildlife authority or a naturalist expert, it sounds like you’re also looked to as a role model by young children. Do you embrace that responsibility?

Yes. I would say yes, that’s the case. And partly it’s because that’s one of the main reasons I’m doing this is because when I was younger, in terms of other than my parents, there were not any young men that I could look up to as a role model at all. And I remember identifying that as a young man and thinking to myself, ‘There are no young guys I can look to and say that guy is awesome and I want to be like him.’ There was no one like that in my life. And I was like that’s just really wrong. And guys don’t have great role models in the media. They used to in previous generations. They had characters like Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger and characters who stood for justice and integrity. And you’re like that’s a cool guy who could ride and shoot and do all this cool stuff, and he’s a man of character and I want to be like him. And today’s kids have no one like that in the media. Especially young boys.

And so one of my interests in going into film and video production is I want to be able to provide content—whether it’s me or not—of characters and heroes who are worthy of being role models. And I remember one of the inspirations for me was watching LeVar Burton on Reading Rainbow growing up. And I felt like I knew LeVar because of how genuine his presentation was on camera and I felt like he was my friend and I thought, 'You know I want to be able to do that for kids, too.' And it is an awesome responsibility, and it has its responsibilities taking on that kind of a role. But if you’re in the public eye, that thing is going to happen regardless. But I’m in a position where I welcome that because I want to inspire kids, I want to encourage kids, I want to say you can be cool and conservative. It’s okay. And you can be totally cool and yet be God honoring in all that you do. That’s the lie of the culture. The lie of the culture is in order to be cool [you have to] ditch this religion stuff and you know be all liberal and anti-God. And I’m like, 'no, no no.'

So we need role models who can be God honoring and be cool in the eyes of kids, and that is something that I embrace. I love to be able to inspire young minds as they grow and develop so that they can stay on the straight and narrow. But it has been a lot of fun. I’ll never forget when I had a presentation where it was a boy who was in elementary school and was terrified of snakes, and I had snakes with me in my presentation and he was really worried about this. So I talked to him beforehand with the teacher and I said, ‘Okay now you don’t have to touch him. You don’t have to be near him. It’s not a big deal.’ And I always save the snakes for last ‘cause they’re the biggest wow factors. So I brought [the snake] out, and he was okay and he touched it and at the end he made a point to tell me that he was okay with it and that he could do it and that he was all right and that he really liked touching the snake. And at the end he raised his hand, and he said when he grew up he wanted to be just like me. I was like, ‘Man, that’s an awesome responsibility when a child says that.’ But it also means that you’re inspiring them, and I was inspired by certain men. It’s a joy to be able to do that for kids.

Were there any nature shows with hosts you admired that you really enjoyed watching as a child?

Yes, definitely. My initial show growing up was watching Marty Stouffer’s Wild America in the 1980s which is really not a kids’ show in a lot of ways, because it’s very much traditional documentary style with very flat narration and footage that could get graphic at times with animals attacking each other and what not. But I really like clued in to that as a young person. But the show that I would say really took me to the point where I wanted to be a nature personality myself was watching John Acorn. He’s a Canadian entomologist. John Acorn’s show: Acorn The Nature Nut. And he’s just a quirky guy, and he is hilarious. His show ran for like eighty some odd episodes. It ran a good long time. It was made through Discovery Channel Canada. But here in the United States it was on Animal Planet and also on TBS. And John Acorn actually has become a mentor of mine. I have been in touch with John since I was 14, and he’s been a mentor and has even helped out with some information and research on Critter Quest! and as well as a little bit on The Nature of God as well. But anyway John Acorn’s Acorn The Nature Nut would probably be my number one favorite nature show growing up that really inspired me to do the . . . well, he opened my eyes to so many different types of animals and creatures and things. He’s the one who got me hooked on Tiger Beetles. He’s a world-class Tiger Beetle expert. He’s just got me totally hooked on them. He has a song in every episode. He would sing. He wrote his songs, and he performed them. I could sing his theme song right now, along with several other of his songs. That’s what’s so hilarious … his name really is John Acorn. But he’s a really funny guy, quirky, really great sense of humor, and I think really inspired me a lot as a young person to pursue the path I’m on.

I can see how you would be inspired then and now in your work today. And speaking of shows, are you still hosting for Critter Quest! on the Smithsonian Channel or what is going on with that?

At the present time, no. Critter Quest! was . . . well, we’re hoping that it will come back. Basically, the Smithsonian Channel was in its infancy in 2006 trying to pull programming together which is when I got on board. And we shot several episodes for them, and they’ve been released on DVD. It won awards, and they’re available on iTunes and all that good stuff. But the deal is that since 2007 when the channel went live, they’d actually been basically focusing on getting established in the market. And so their financial resources have been pushed there. I’m hoping and working toward maybe getting Critter Quest! back into production, but at the present time I would call it a finished project. However, recently the Smithsonian Channel called me this past year and I just finished doing some voiceovers. They asked me to co-write and host an hour TV special for the channel down in Florida about the research the Smithsonian is doing in the Indian River Lagoon. And so Creatures of the Lagoon is going to be premiering on the Smithsonian Channel sometime later in the year and is another thing I hosted and I narrate and was part of.