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With no one to tell him what to do or what to look at, he becomes an explorer, splashing through streams and turning over logs.
Too often, groups just focus on doing their own thing, he believes, but their impact could be greater if they worked together."There's no cohesion among conservation groups," he said.
But I also get to put on a tie and go to meetings where I can talk with people about collaborating to preserve the woods that I still love to play in," he said.
And it's in keeping with his epiphany those three decades ago.
In August, he took over his new role as director of the Center for Conservation & Stewardship.
That's a new Cincinnati Nature Center (CNC) initiative that aims to help create a regional approach to conservation and stewardship here.