Richard Nelson is a cultural anthropologist and creative nonfiction writer whose work focuses on human relationships to the natural world. He was born in Madison , Wisconsin, attended the University of Wisconsin, and received a doctorate in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has written and narrated Encounters Programs since the series began in 2004.
Richard first came to Alaska in 1961, as a field assistant for a human ecology research project on Kodiak Island. He returned in 1963 to work with archaeologists on a remote island in the aleutian chain.
Over the following years, he lived in Alaskan native villages, helping to record the cultural traditions and intellectual achievements of Inupiaq Eskimo and Athabaskan Indian people. Based on these experiences, he wrote Hunters of the Northern Ice, Hunters of the Northern Forest, Shadow of the Hunter, Make Prayers to the Raven, and The Athabaskans. He was Associate Producer and Writer for an award-winning Public Television series about Koyukon Indian life, titled Make Prayers to the Raven.
Richard Nelson has also written more broadly about people and the environment. His book The Island Within, a personal journey into the natural world surrounding his home, received the John Burroughs Award for nature writing. A subsequent book, Heart and Blood: Living with Deer in America, which explores the complex and often controversial relationships between people and deer, received the 1998 Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award. He is also co-author (with Barry Lopez and Terry Tempest Williams) of Patriotism and the American Land. This book examines the roots of allegiance to land in Native American traditions, recognizes the importance of working to protect our sustaining environment, and celebrates conservation as the ultimate form of patriotism.
Richard Nelson has lived in Sitka for 25 years, where he follows his passion for the outdoors and volunteers for a community conservation group. He frequently travels to the wildest places in Alaska-- as well as Canada and Australia-- to record Encounters programs and add to a growing archive of natural sounds.
He regards exploring the wilds with a microphone as the perfect combination of play and work, with the serious goal of educating people about our natural heritage.
Lisa Busch is the producer of Encounters. She says her favorite part of the show is when Richard says, “Holy Mackerel". Lisa has been a science producer for 20 years in Alaska . After attending Tufts University and majoring in Geology and Environmental Studies she did the world a favor and got out of science. A fellowship from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) placed her at a public radio station (KUAC) in Colorado. Once she saw that western sky and those big mountains she couldn't go back east so she applied for a job in public radio in Sitka , Alaska where the majestic mountains plunge into the sea. She worked as a general reporter at KCAW for several years before beginning a freelance career specializing in Alaska science. She worked for Discovery Channel Online, Science magazine, Popular Mechanics and others before foolishly leaving Alaska to work for U.S. News and World Report in D.C. Finding no appropriate place to wear her rubber boots, Lisa left D.C. and returned to Sitka to marry Davey Lubin, captain of the Esther G; mill some wood for a couple houses; have two fabulous daughters and become executive producer for several public radio documentary series including Alaskan Women in Science and Common Knowledge: Science and Tradition in Native America. She is a committed trail enthusiast, co-founder of Sitka Trail Works, a big supporter of arts in the schools, a volunteer for the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, and a member and founder of the Sitka Tree and Landscape Committee.
Elizabeth Arnold is a senior reporter for Encounters. She has extensive experience in Alaska, public radio and the outdoors of the North. She was an NPR national correspondent for fifteen years covering the halls of Congress, the White House, presidential campaigns and the changing American West. Now, back in Alaska, she remains a frequent contributor to NPR programs such as All Things Considered and Morning Edition. Most recently, she reported from China, Outer Mongolia and the North Pole for the public radio series, Stories from the Heart of the Land, produced by Jay Allison.
After several seasons of commercial salmon fishing, Arnold paid off her student loans and entered the world of public radio in 1985 at public radio station KTOO in Juneau, Alaska. There she covered local and statewide issues and began filing national stories ranging from a rare sighting of a blue bear, to the politics of timber and oil. Arnold quickly became NPR’s go-to reporter when anything of national significance occurred in Alaska. Invited to NPR’s Washington DC headquarters for a residency, she arrived just as the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound. Instead of sending her home, NPR asked Arnold to cover the story from the White House and Congress. Since then, Arnold became known for nearly a decade of political reporting on Capitol Hill. As a congressional reporter and then as NPR's national political correspondent, Arnold covered the House and Senate, congressional campaigns, and four presidential elections. She won numerous awards, most notably the Joan Shorenstein Barone Award for Outstanding Journalism, the Dirksen Award for Distinguished Reporting on Congress, and the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Silver Baton for Excellence in Journalism. She's also received top honors from the Society of Professional Journalists, American Women in Radio and Television, and the Washington Press Club Foundation.
Arnold graduated cum laude from Colgate University in New York with bachelor's degrees in English and fine arts. A resident of Anchorage, she remains an avid hiker, skier, and long-distance runner which she now does with her son Jack who shares his mother’s love of the outdoors and the feeling of cold air moving across his face.
Liz McKenzie is the web content developer, researcher and occasional photographer for Encounters Radio. She is also a writer, teacher, adventurer and lover of wild places. Her favorite part of being on the Encounters team is accompanying Richard to some of the most fabulous places on earth like the Brooks Range in northern Alaska and Tasmania, the island state to the south of mainland Australia. She is Associate Professor of English at the University of Alaska Southeast and in addition to her work with Encounters and teaching, Liz has several other ongoing projects—writing and development of cultural and natural history web pages for Gates of the Arctic National Park, a collection of women’s writing on the Alaska experience, and a series of her own writings on nature, memory, and place.
Liz has a Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Resource Management from Virginia Tech and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Miami. She spent five years working as a park ranger in Grand Teton National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Her work included interpretation, back country patrols on horseback, and wild land fire fighting. After receiving her Master’s degree, Liz began her teaching career which has spanned nearly 15 years. She specializes in teaching classes in memoir and nature and place writing. She has taught students from such diverse perspectives as Cuban refugees in Miami and Alaska Natives in remote northern villages. She has lived in Sitka since 1997, where she spends as much time as possible hiking, kayaking, and snow shoeing.