We had the good fortune of connecting with Brooke Bessesen and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Brooke, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” This quote by American poet Mary Oliver makes my skin tingle because it feels so personal. It reminds me that I am profoundly connected to all creation, and it inspires me to choose a meaningful course, dig deep, and live my best life—the clock is ticking.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Basically, I am a scientist and a writer. These might seem like disparate callings, but like my left and right hands they function well together and I’m grateful to have both. My work is demanding because I shift directions regularly as new projects emerge, each with new challenges. But I absolutely love what I do! As a marine biologist, I am lucky to spend time with wild dolphins, sea turtles, and (charming) yellow sea snakes. Part of my job as a scientist, of course, is to write up my research results, but even when I am writing about other topics as an author, I rely on my general knowledge of wildlife. For my most recent book, “Vaquita: Science, Politics, and Crime in the Sea of Cortez,” I spent two years traveling back and forth to Mexico to talk with townspeople, scientists, activists, and fishermen, about the human impacts that are causing the world’s most endangered marine mammal—a tiny porpoise called vaquita—to be teetering on the brink of extinction. It was a grueling task, given the darkness and contention of the story, but a meaningful achievement to bring wider international awareness to the species.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I feel privileged to live in a resort area with unique attractions and great food, but my real passion is nature. In my “Arizona Highways Wildlife Guide,” I offer five gorgeous wildlife viewing areas around the state, so if time allowed, I would definitely take my friend somewhere to see critters—a day trip to Boyce Thomson Arboretum is always fun. Locally, we’d be sure to enjoy a morning hike in the Sonoran Mountain Preserve (Lost Dog Trail or Sunrise Peak depending on our energy) and a stroll or bike ride along the Hayden Greenbelt. One day I would schedule a tour at Taliesin West, the hidden gem where Frank Lloyd Wright shaped architectural wonders from the desert landscape. Another day we’d hit the MIM (Musical Instrument Museum). Old Towne Scottsdale is the perfect lunch zone, with a choice of well-crafted flavors for every palate (I especially love the Herb Box, Arcadia Farms Cafe, and Grimaldi’s Pizza), followed by a meander through the local shops and art galleries. Our favorite eatery, Nick’s Italian on Frank Lloyd Wright, is a must for dinner (with tiramisu, of course!). And after resting poolside under the palms, live music in the breezy Center Stage Bar at the Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch is a lovely way to end an evening.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have spent more than 35 years studying and working with animals and striving to inform and motivate others to care about the natural world—first as a television producer and now as a book author. It has been an extraordinary journey with enormous thanks to the many, many people who have mentored me along the way. Like, for example, Dr. Kathy Orr, who long ago hired me as her weekend veterinary technician at the Phoenix Zoo animal hospital. And Jonathan Snider, now executive producer at Cox Communications, who launched my early television career. And Win Holden, who published my first children’s book through Arizona Highways. Indeed, it would take pages to express my gratitude to everyone who has empowered me through the years. But today’s shout-out goes to one very special person: my adorable husband, Kevin Steiner. Kevin is smart and sweet, playful and sexy. He is a brilliant businessman, who has grown a multi-million-dollar international sales division. And as an instrument-rated aviator, he built and flew an award-winning airplane. His daily yoga practice includes crazy-twisty arm balances and handstands that keep him trim and muscled. And did I mention that he makes me laugh? His animal impressions are particularly hilarious (yes, he knows his audience.) Bound together for more than 26 years, it’s been a joy to witness Kevin’s successes and I never take for granted our union of mutual support. His love and daily help keep my world afloat. Whether I’m working in Costa Rica as a scientist, doing data analyses, travelling as a medical lead on the the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Animal Rescue Team, or home drafting a new book, Kevin believes in me. He’s the airstream under my wings.

Website: www.brookebessesen.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brooke.bessesen

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